Can communication cure road rage?

Timothy Revell reports on a system named "CarNote" that allows drivers to send each other messages while underway.  The basic idea is that drivers can explain their behavior to others, thus reducing the risk of aggressive interactions, e.g., "road rage".

So, for example, a driver rushing to hospital might put up a message to that effect, which would be visible to other drivers nearby.  Seeing that the rushing driver is experiencing some sort of emergency, other drivers would be more inclined to forgive their pushy driving.

A test in a simulator supports this conclusion.  Drivers in the simulator who saw messages such as "in a hurry to the airport" or "searching for a turn-off" seemed more empathetic towards the fast or slow drivers in question.

The idea is a plausible one.  After all, one reason for road rage seems to result from duhumanization of the guy in the other car, who often appears to be merely a cipher inside an annoying mobile, metal can.  So, CarNote could defuse potentially technostressing situations.

There is also room for concern.  The tests reported are restricted to the kinds of messages that might motivate forgiveness.  However, what if a driver posted a message like "Make America Great Again!!!"?  That might soothe some drivers but antagonize others.

Another problem concerns trust.  Messages like "rushing to the hospital" might inspire forgiveness only to the extent they are believed.  Aggressive drivers could post such messages simply to give themselves cover for their annoying driving habits.  If such behavior became sufficiently prevalent, or merely perceived to be, then fellow drivers may stop believing these messages.

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