Driving is Aggressive by Design

Driving is an everyday factor for a large part of the population. While being careful to avoid overstatement, we know in many cities people rely on public transportation or simply walk or ride a bicycle, driving still has consequences for all of life

Given my regular commutes and the flood of bad drivers I encounter, the psychologist in me always looks for possible explanations. Namely, my thought for some time now has been that driving is aggressive by nature.

Driving requires aggression – is built on a system where “cutting in line” is part of the demands and rules. Life requires we all stay far too busy. Classes, meetings, and doctor’s appointments start at the specified time and don’t particularly allow for weather, other aggressive drivers, or life in general, only making “cutting” all the more necessary. 

Driving is superhuman too. Drivers are a kind of “Superman” or “Superwoman.” Driving 30, 50, even 70+ MPH. Evolution didn’t prepare us to move at such speeds (per se, given that the Earth moves much faster than that, we just don’t notice it). This only makes us more aggressive, more eager for power, more risky, and more confident. We think these 3,000-4,000 pound machines shield us from every thing, making the car an aggressor, too. 

And driving is anonymous. No one knows that’s Frank Graham in the Honda Accord driving 90 MPH in a 60 MPH zone. Tinted windows are becoming more popular and add to the anonymity. 

Driving is a aggressive in other ways, too. Driving is expensive – taxing both the wallets of people and the health of the Earth. As cars emerged, cities grew bigger and bigger – changing the dynamics of local communities and along with industrialism in general, aggressively changing and challenging conceptions of community, time, and place.