Research in Germany revealed that driving while angry leads to an increase in instances of deliberate aggressive behaviour which can result in more frequent accidents or instances of road rage.
In the case of sadness, French researchers found it is akin to a case of cognitive distraction, as the driver spirals into rumination over the depressing issue and focuses less on their surroundings.
While it is not realistic to only drive when perfectly calm, being cognisant of how you feel before you go on the trip would at least guard yourself from losing control due to a provocation.
Circumstances also play a role. According to routine activity theory proposed by American criminologists Marcus Felson and Lawrence E Cohen, crime occurs when there is a convergence of a motivated offender, an attractive target and the absence of capable guardianship.
Let’s look at the last factor first. In most of these cases, the altercation is over and any remedial action involving the authorities takes place after the incident. With chock-a-block traffic at the Causeway and Second Link, a “guardian” to enforce rules or keep the peace cannot simply materialise anytime they are needed.
Now add to this mix a “motivated offender”: The driver who has been stuck in the jam for hours, only for another driver to break out of the long line of sufferers to cut in ahead.
Finally the “attractive target”. The offender feels this target deserves the reciprocal aggression and is someone they can take on. They could be enraged by another provocative action, say an insult or a gesture following the lane-cutting, that it triggers fixation on the target.