Q. My husband drives like a maniac and the phrase “road rage” was invented for him. He says I’m overacting but I’m honestly afraid to ride with him, let alone have the kids in the car. What’s so weird is that otherwise he’s a pretty even-tempered guy. What makes him do the Jekyll-and-Hyde thing when he’s behind the wheel?
A. Scientific advances in brain imaging show that, on average, men have larger visual-spatial centers in their right brains than women do. The origin of this difference may be that as primitive hunters, men needed to be exquisitely attuned to moving objects. For modern men, driving a car activates the part of the brain that was once used to go for the kill. Add to that the presence of testosterone, a hormone that is largely responsible for aggression and competitiveness in males of most species, and you’ve got the human equivalent of bucks charging and locking horns. On top of that, many men feel free to express anger at strangers in other cars while they’re at the wheel because there will almost certainly be no retribution. The solution is for a man like your husband to find ways to channel his inborn tendency toward aggression. Sometimes work, hobbies, or sports can help provide a release valve for pent-up hostility. If that’s not enough, consider encouraging him to seek professional help for anger management. Road rage is serious. The safety of you and your children is at stake. Do whatever you can to help your husband control himself.