SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – The incidence of road rage continues to increase in South Korea, despite government measures to combat the violence and stricter penalties.
Although new legislation was enacted last year criminalizing violent driving and road rage with a one-year jail term or a fine of up to 5 million won, the number of road rage incidents is still on the rise.
Nearly 5,000 cases of road rage were reported last year alone, and 2,168 individuals were arrested, meaning 13.6 incidents took place and six people were arrested every day throughout last year, according to data from the National Police Agency
The actual number is estimated to be even higher.
Earlier this year, a vehicle rammed into a motorcycle on purpose, leaving the motorcyclist with severe injuries.
According to video footage capturing the incident, the vehicle is seen suddenly speeding up in a cloud of exhaust before changing lanes and dashing towards the motorcyclist.
The motorcyclist in his late 50s was sent tumbling to the ground, damaging his collarbone and ribs and requiring a lengthy hospital stay.
When the driver was arrested and asked about his motivations, he said it was simply because the motorcyclist ‘didn’t make way’.
The black box footage filmed from a vehicle driving behind the offender then spread like wildfire across social media, and the dangerous, and possibly deadly driving depicted in the video was met with outrage.
Comments expressing anger ensued, with one user saying, “This isn’t just road rage. It is bordering on attempted murder.”
During the same month, another driver was arrested near Sinchon, Seoul for battery and dangerous driving, after driving in a dangerous manner and beating another driver for not using an indicator.
There never seems to be a shortage of stories of road rage in South Korea, despite police introducing stricter punishments for dangerous driving in 2015, which cover not only intentional car accidents but also threatening other drivers through less aggressive ways such as flashing lights and honking horns.
While police have ramped up efforts to crack down on violent driving through seminars which often focus on anger management issues and the overcall driving culture in South Korea, some argue it is bad drivers that cause road rage in the first place.
According to an online survey by K-Plaza, a blog run by KIA Motors, over 7 in 10 drivers have felt anger towards another driver on the road.
Drivers cutting in line without indicating was the most anger-inducing behavior for South Korean drivers, while ‘noisy car horns from behind’ came second.
The survey also showed an overwhelming 79 percent saying there are serious problems with South Korea’s driving culture, with only 3 percent saying South Koreans have good driving manners.
Despite a growing number of reports in recent years, road rage is widely seen as a long-lived habit among South Korean drivers and has only come to the surface since 2015 when penalties for dangerous driving became more serious.
Experts argue that more education on the accurate definition of dangerous driving needs to take place, while policy measures need to be introduced to help correct violent driving behavior.
“Many of the drivers arrested turn out to have had violent driving behavior for some time, and they don’t know their behavior falls under dangerous driving most of the time,” said Professor Cho Yun-gyeong from the North Chungcheong Province unit of the Road Traffic Authority.
Many drivers aren’t aware that sudden braking or sudden acceleration doesn’t amount to a crime.
“More needs to be done to promote and educate the accurate definition of road rage and dangerous driving to drivers. Road safety and safe driving education needs to start before getting a driver’s license, around which driving patterns start to develop,” Cho said.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)