Academic Reading Sample 206

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 16-29, which are based on Passage 2 below.

Road rage all the rage!

To many people the term ‘Road Rage’ describes a relatively modern concept of drivers ‘getting worked up due to some incident whilst on the road and resorting to physical violence or damage to property. Most people would say that this has only really become a problem in the last five years or so. It has certainly attracted great media interest in recent times, but it has, in fact, been part of motoring for quite some time now.

A psychologist, employed by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), defines ‘Road Rage’, thus: ‘unchecked behaviour designed to cause harm to another road user; behavior which is not normally in the behavioural repertoire of the person. ‘Road Rage’ is an altering of an individual’s personality whilst driving caused by a process of dehumanisation. This dehumanisation is caused by road use frustrations and an artificial sense of insulation, protection and empowerment provided by the car. This leads the person to behave in a way designed to cause harm or endanger other road users.

Most motorists can remember an occasion at some time in their motoring career when an impatient, or short-tempered, driver has ‘cut them or someone else up’ with an aggressive display of driving, forcing the victim to take evasive action to avoid a collision. At the time, they probably thought: what a Oreadful piece of driving; and mentally clapped themselves on the back for being such controlled, calm drivers. Media attention, focused on particularly gruesome incidents, has bestowed a certain notoriety on this sort of driving. As a professional driver in inner London and a motorcycle instructor, I have witnessed such driving all too often over the years.

The 1996 Lex Report on motoring, published by Lex Service PLC, the UK’s leading vehicle retailing and leasing group, provides us with some startling statistics. In the last 12 months, there have been: 1.8 million instances of people who have been forced to pull over or off the road; 800,000 instances of people being physically threatened; 500,000 people in their cars being deliberately driven into; 250,000 people attacked by other drivers; and 250,000 people having their cars deliberately damaged by another driver. A survey also carried out by Lex confirms that up to 80% of motorists have been the victims of ‘Road Ragje’ and that driver confrontation is on the increase.

The RAC has also much to say on the topic. One of their surveys reveals that as many as 90% of motorists have suffered at the hands of seriously anti-social drivers and that the effects upon them have in many cases been wholly disproportionate to the level of threat or actual violence inflicted.

The examples are both chilling and legion: a driver had his nose bitten off following a row with another motorist; a 78 year-old man was killed after being punched by a man half his age; an RAC patrolman, flagged down on the motorway by a motorist, was violently assaulted and verbally abused by the motorist. The list goes on and on …

The 1991 Road Traffic Act takes a very dim view indeed of dangerous and careless driving and, as with assaults, provides stiff custodial sentences for those guilty of such crimes, To date, however, there is no such offence in the statute books known as ‘Road Rage’. There can be assaults or criminal damage, followed or preceded by dangerous driving, but no offence that incorporates both – a change in the law which the public are clamouring for in the face of increasing anarchy on the roads.

Conversely, the Association of Chief Police Officers denies that ‘Road Rage’ exists; or, indeed, that there is a trend. There have been suggestions from the same quarter that ‘media interest and reporting are, in fact, creating the problem by causing unnecessary anxiety in the minds of the motoring public in a direct analogy with fear of crime’.

Most of us probably imagine violence on the road to be an entirely male preserve, as men are naturally more competitive and aggressive, especially when it comes to driving. Melanie Flowers of Oxford Brookes University, however, has the following to say: ‘Women can be more aggressive in cars than they ever would be when they are walking along the street. In fact, you could even argue that smaller or weaker people, who might be victims when they are out of their cars, often feel they can even things up a bit when they are behind the wheel. When you are driving you’re judged by your car rather than your physical attributes. It makes some women feel stronger than they really are’. An interesting study, but how often do you see women fighting at the roadside or kicking in body panels?

If all this is a general reflection of the driver of the 90s, then the professionals have an uphill struggle. But they are tackling the problem head on. The RAC and Auto Express, a motoring journal, have joined forces in a Campaign Against Rage (CAR). They aim to promote driver courtesy, offer advice on avoiding ‘Road Rage’, and even Rage Rehabilitation for violent offenders in an attempt to avoid re-offence.

The courts are looking at stiffer penalties. And the RAC is suggesting that sign-posting be improved to try and stop city drivers losing their way, a constant source of annoyance and aggression, and they have also proposed the introduction of variable message signs that can help improve driver behaviour. Some police traffic control cars are now equipped with these message signs on the roof or rear of their vehicles.

And the future? The Auto class survey, published in 1997, shows that parents are creating the next generation of road-ragers. The research among 10-16 year-olds found that 62 per cent of fathers and 55 per cent of mothers get angry while driving.

One thing is a certainty: the Road Rage phenomenon is not going to disappear overnight, even after stiffer sentencing or improved driver training.

QUESTIONS 16 & 17
Using the information in the passage, complete the table below. Write your answers in Boxes 16 & 17 on your answer sheet.

Percentage of motorists affected by Road Rage
The Lex Report – up to 16_______ %
RAC Survey – up to 17_______ %

QUESTIONS 18-23
The information in Reading Passage 2? In Boxes 18-23, write:

TRUE, if the statement agrees with the information in the passage
False, if the statement contradicts the information in the passage
Not Given, if there is no information about the statement in the passage
Example: The Lex Report was published in 1997.
Answer: No

  • Road Rage is not in itself a violation of the law.
  • According to a psychologist employed by the RAC, cars give their drivers an
    unreal feeling of being safe.
  • Motorcycling is an exciting, but safe mode of transport.
  • The Lex Report states that the incidence of conflicts between drivers is rising rapidly.
  • The survey on Road Rage carried out by the RAC is very thorough.
  • According to the writer, Road Rage is a relatively modern phenomenon.

QUESTIONS 24-27
Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, complete the sentences below.

  • Professionals face a n _______ in their fight against Road Rage.
  • ____________________are being considered by the law courts.
  • Violent behaviour by motorists is, in all probability, considered by many to be exclusively a
  • The Association of Chief Police Officers attributes the problem of Road Rage to media

QUESTIONS 28 & 29
Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in Boxes 27 & 28 on your answer sheet.

28. Melanie Flowers of Oxford Brookes University states that …
A cars make women stronger.
B cars frequently make women more combative than usual.
C cars sometimes make women less meek than they would be on the street.
D small women feel as meek in cars as they do outside.

29. The writer’s view of the eradication of ‘Road Rage’ can be summarised as follows:
A optimistic.
B pessimistic.
C depressed.
D too pessimistic.

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