Traumatic Brain Injury Linked to Higher Incidence of Road Rage and Crashes

Brain Injury Linked to Road RageA recent study, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, found that drivers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) had much higher rates of road rage and were much more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than those who have not. The study shows a brain injury link to road rage. More specifically, it shows that there is a connection between brain injury and dangerous driving behaviors but does not establish whether or not brain injury causes these behaviors.

The Study: Brain Injury Linked to Road Rage

The study looked at results of a phone survey of nearly 4,000 Canadian drivers age 18 to 97. Although TBI can occur with no loss of consciousness, for the purpose of the study, TBI was defined as a head injury resulting in loss of consciousness for at least five minutes or overnight hospitalization. Serious road rage was defined as making threats to harm another driver, passenger or vehicle.

In the study, drivers who had suffered TBI, even just one TBI, had significantly more incidents of serious road rage than those who had never suffered TBI. TBI sufferers were also more likely to have been involved in a traffic crash serious enough to cause injuries or damage to their vehicle.

The survey was conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in 2011 and 2012, as part of an ongoing survey of adult mental health and substance use in Canada.

Cause or Effect

The study does not establish a causal relationship between TBI and dangerous driving behavior, and more research is needed. We know that those who are prone to dangerous behaviors are more likely to experience TBI, and that after TBI many people begin to engage in dangerous behaviors. Helping TBI victims understand the possible risks and learn coping skills could help reduce road rage and traffic accidents.

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