Road Rage Not Limited to Drivers
Pedestrians in Boston should be pleased to know that the rage they perceive in other walkers could be very real. Signs of sidewalk rage, according can be assigned to the Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale, ranges from feeling stress and impatience when walking to the extreme psychiatric condition called “intermittent explosive disorder,” or the simple muttering and hogging a lane.
The PASS scale was developed by Dr. Leon James, of Hawaii, whose website provides tips on how to “handle one’s pedestrian rage.” Moreover, he focuses on how to keep children pedestrians safe on the streets.
Different walking speeds can lead to distorted perceptions in others. In a New York City study designed to study “pedestrian level of service,” the speed at which different categories of pedestrians walked was studied extensively. For example, tourists walk 2.79 feet per second while pedestrians with headphones walk at an average rate of 4.64 feet per second. Cellphone users average 4.2 feet per second. Men walk faster than women; and large people walk slower.
There is a Facebook page called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head…” with over 14,000 people who like it. And this does not include the Facebook page with almost 9,000 admirers called “I secretly want to punch slow walking people in the back of their heads!” And these numbers were before the Wall Street Journal published a story on pedestrian rage entitled “Get Out of My Way, You Jerk.”
Most importantly, from a safety viewpoint, walkers need to understand that vehicles rule the road. At critical juncture, such as crosswalks, other walkers need to be put into perspective. Dr. James points to a report in New York that determined that aggressive drivers caused most of the pedestrian deaths in the city. In fact, they cause 90% of the pedestrian deaths there. Aggressive drivers in crosswalks is the largest cause of pedestrian deaths, with speeding and red light violations coming in second. The author of that study, Charles Komanoff, said “Most pedestrian fatalities are caused by drivers’ failure to observe traffic laws.” Dr. James testified in Congress as to the symptoms of road rage.