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Why are Canadian drivers becoming more aggressive?

While Canadians are generally regarded as being nice, polite people, those who have driven the roads of Ontario and other populous areas may disagree. In what's been termed a "culture of entitlement," drivers are engaging in dangerous behaviour, including everything from eating to applying make-up to brushing their teeth to reading a book behind the wheel. They are becoming more aggressive.

The general manager of an organization called Young Drivers of Canada says that during the last half of his 30 years as a driving instructor, he has seen aggressive and dangerous behaviour increase. This includes taking up multiple lanes, cutting off slower drivers, disregarding traffic lights and failing to yield for or even blocking emergency vehicles.

Some say that the cocoon that vehicles create leads to this narcissistic behavior on the roads. People can shut out the world, consumed with their favorite music or radio show, talking on their hands-free phone while their kids are watching "Inside Out" in the back seat for the hundredth time.

The larger the vehicle, the greater the feeling of safety and often superiority, according to one psychologist. He says that in many ways the middle-aged and older people driving SUVs are more dangerous than teenage boys in sports cars because they tower over other traffic. In fact, the number of cars with manual transmissions, once a popular choice with drivers, has decreased from 35 percent in 1980 to just 9 percent today, in large part because these transmissions limit the amount of multi-tasking that drivers can do.

Aggressive driving and other dangerous behaviours come with a price -- besides the obvious danger to drivers and others on (or near) the road. Drivers can incur hefty fines, demerit points on their licenses and potentially criminal charges if someone is injured or killed because of their actions. They can also face costly lawsuits.

Source: Macleans, "A new, and dangerous, kind of distracted driver," Anne Kingston, accessed Feb. 19, 2016

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