ICEBERG ROAD RAGE by Nick Nicholson


The term “Iceberg Road Rage” came from the same man credited with naming “Road Rage” in the first place, Britain’s Dr. David Lewis.

We have become very familiar with seeing the results of road rage in daily news broadcasts. When two or more drivers don’t see eye to eye, retaliation can take a physical form causing death, bodily injury or substantial damage. But, what is this “Iceberg Road Rage”?

Dr. Lewis claims that it can be more dangerous than road rage itself because it involves YOU. Just as an iceberg floats with ninety percent of its mass hidden under the water, iceberg road rage can stew in one’s mind just under the surface for well over an hour. That could cover a distance of over seventy miles (112+ km.) where our thoughts are disrupted from safety.

It’s that feeling we get when some idiot’s action annoys us to the point that we ignore our normal safe driving precautions. We become aggressive just to keep that driver in sight. Our secret desire is to see them receive some sort of restitution because of the way we think they drive. Unfortunately, quite often it’s an innocent mistake on the part of the other driver, not a malicious, intentional action where we take exception. Sometimes, I think vehicles need “pop-up” signs that say “Sorry!” for just those occasions. It might diffuse others and can’t be confused with “giving the finger”.

Our thinking changes to “they deserve to be harmed”. I want revenge! It “simmers” away at us. We don’t outwardly react but all the time it’s going through our minds we are not driving safely. We do dangerous things to keep that person within sight and therefore, are putting ourselves, passengers and fellow road users in peril. We are not focusing on our own safety.

As a safety practitioner, we have to first, recognize the sensation within ourselves and divorce from it and, second, transfer that message to our trainees so they can stop as soon as the thought occurs. Get away from it immediately and re-focus on your own driving.

Instantly, we need to “back-off” and let that perpetrator get out of sight. At the same time, remove that incident from your mind. Hit the imaginary “REFRESH” button and bring your thinking back to safety. We need to apply extra caution because we know our thoughts have been disrupted. What about the guy beside us who witnessed the same incident and has similar feelings. What’s he going to do that might involve us?

There are so many distractions out there that don’t even touch upon Nick-2015cell phone usage that we literally jeopardize our lives when we turn the key. Very few drivers are actually consciously thinking about their driving when they are driving. Even the best of drivers catch themselves doing that!

This is the message we have to get through to our trainees. Make them conscious of what precautions they need to take for themselves and make them aware of the fact that other drivers may not be in “touch”. Make sure our driver’s mind is squarely on top of the iceberg, well aware of what danger is surrounding at all times. There’s a store that sells phoney red “Easy Buttons”. Should they be applied to fleet dashboards and labelled “REFRESH” to increase our “ICEBERG” awareness? Push it to remind yourself!

I’ll always remember Joe Edmonds who gave a presentation to our Council around 2007. His son and two others were killed in a road rage incident. His advice to us was when another person annoys us, “think of that person as a rock”. If you came across a rock in the middle of the road, you would avoid it and carry on giving no further reaction. Do the same with that driver.

It only takes a fraction of a second to destroy our world as we know it. Keep your world safe.

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.

David Lewis,

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.

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