[URBAN NOTE] “Experts explain why Toronto streets can feel like a battlefield”
The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell looks at how, and why, Toronto streets can emerge as zones of conflict.
Why do Toronto’s busiest streets and highways sometimes feel like combat zones?
There are many theories on why people become angry behind the wheel of a car, says Christine Wickens, a scientist with CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, who has studied driver aggression.
“Most people who are generally hostile are going to be generally hostile on the roadway as well,” Wickens says citing one widely accepted theory.
Human beings are also territorial by nature, so “there’s this personal space around your vehicle, and you don’t want it to be invaded.”
Another theory is that the anonymity of driving fuels bad behaviour. “If someone cuts you off on the highway, chances are they can’t see you. You’ll probably never come across them again,” she says.
“But if it happens in your driveway, and you and your neighbour pulled out at the same time, and nearly hit each other, would you be just as likely to get out and scream and yell and rant and rave? Probably not.”