Traumatic Brain Injury Linked to Aggressive Driving

Researchers have found a higher incidence of road rage in individuals with at least one traumatic brain injury, according to a new study published by the Accident and Prevention journal.

Scientists determined this link by studying and reviewing 4,000 individuals between the ages of 18-97. A strong link has already been found between substance abuse, psychiatric factors and car collisions. Finding this correlation between brain injuries and aggressive driving is the next step in putting more effective policies in place to improve the overall safety of passengers on roadways.

For the purposes of the study, road rage was defined as damaging another vehicle or threatening to endanger another passenger or driver due to aggressive driving. A brain injury happens when the brain and brain tissue are damaged, often due to a sudden blow or hit to the head, or when an object pierces the skull. When an individual loses consciousness for at least five minutes or requires overnight hospitalization from a brain injury, a traumatic brain injury results.

Although it is not considered a complex activity, driving requires multiple cognitive processes and focus. A traumatic brain injury can affect these multiple cognitive processes. The lead author of the study, Dr. Gabriela Illie, hypothesizes that car collisions resulting from road rage may be successfully minimized if proper prevention, screening and rehabilitation services are made available in the future for those individuals experiencing a traumatic brain injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2.5 millions Americans will suffer from a traumatic brain injury this year.

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