What sparks road rage? Forensic psychologist dissects road rage mentality

Posted at 5:25 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-26 00:03:31-04

A recent report by The Trace states Florida is the road rage capital of the country.

The Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast are no exceptions.

West Palm Beach road rage victim Michelle Wilf was attacked in November at the corner of Okeechobee Boulevard and Skees Road.

 "I do not know what set this woman off," said Wilf. “That's when she decided to just grab my hair, and just starting taking it and bashing it here and bashing me here and bashing me here. I had over 13 contusions in my head,” said Wilf.

 Her attacker, Joann Massaro, was arrested and convicted.

Forensic psychologist Kristen Tolbert talked with NewsChannel 5 about why people possibly lose their cool in road-rage incidents.

"The feeling of being anonymous and invincible behind the wheel," said Dr. Tolbert.

 Dr. Tolbert also said an out-of-control incident usually starts with a "feeling" that could be triggered by stress.

“The true feeling might actually be fear however it comes out as a burst of anger. It might be harmless but then you might also face the wrong person and find yourself in a situation you might not want to get yourself into," said Dr. Tolbert.

She said many perceived notions on the road might not be true.

"People... don't tend to think about other people all that much when you're driving. Every once in a  while you might face someone that does something intentionally but for the most part, maybe it's somebody that was distracted, maybe they have a high stress level going on or maybe they just didn't see you," said Dr. Tolbert.

Despite this, many drivers find themselves losing their cool.

State troopers don't specifically track road rage incidents, so it's hard to tell exactly how many times this happens on South Florida roads.

Wilf said the aftermath of her run-in with road rage will last a lifetime.

"It's impossible to get over something like this,” said Wilf.