The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Mellowed by Matrimony

Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson

Troubled by the perils of road rage, law-enforcement officials have developed a number of strategies to combat the problem. A new study, however, suggests that the best strategies may be those that set the wedding bells a-ringing. For marriage seems to make drivers more patient, more even tempered, and safer.

Carried out by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Toronto, the study probes the antecedents and consequences of road rage. In data collected from 4,897 adult drivers interviewed between 2002 and 2004, the researchers limn the baleful effects of road rage. It is hardly surprising that statistical analysis shows that “serious perpetration” of road rage predicts an elevated risk of collision (Odds Ratio of 2.24; p .05). But that analysis also reveals that “drivers reporting [even] less serious forms of road rage involvement . . . appear to experience increased collision risk” (Odds Ratio of 1.82; p.01).

Not all drivers are equally rage-and-collision prone. The risk of collision varies significantly by drivers’ marital status. “Never-married [drivers],” the researchers remark, “reported the highest collision rate (13.0%) with rates being significantly lower among married [drivers] (6.6%).” The authors of the study interpret their findings as evidence that “road rage may play an important role in traffic safety.” That safety, it would appear, depends in part on the bonds of wedlock.

(Robert E. Mann et al., “Road Rage and Collision Involvement,” American Journal of Health Behavior 31 [2007]: 384–91.)