How to Prevent Road Rage

Sep 20


James Wagber

James Wagber

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Road rage is a rising epidemic on the roads and highways of this country. It is something that almost all of us have experienced at one time or other. While many disregard this rage as simply "letting off steam" -- the fact is that this emotional driving can lead to tragedy. So how can you avoid feeling road rage and stay safer on the road?

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Road rage is a rising epidemic on the roads and highways of this country.  While much attention has been paid to the other causes of car accidents, such as drunk driving and driver fatigue, road rage is often overlooked.  The fact is that road rage is responsible for up to one-third of all accidents, and an estimated two-thirds of all fatalities, according to the NHTSA.



·What Is Road Rage Exactly?


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as “occurring when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."  Road rage could be defined as driving without taking any consideration of the other cars on the road.  Road rage happens when drivers let their emotions get the best of them, and drive recklessly because they are angered, annoyed and frustrated.  In short, drivers experiencing road rage commit a series of traffic offenses because they are upset.



·How Can I Prevent Road Rage?


This article seeks to explain how to prevent feeling road rage – not how to deal with road rage in other drivers (see the article “How To Deal With An Aggressive Driver” for that topic).


The following are tips to help you feel more relaxed on the road, so that you will be less likely to experience road rage. 



·Leave Yourself Enough Time


When we are rushed, we are more stressed.  If you are late for work, school, or a very important meeting, every second counts.  And when on the road, it can seem that the car in front of us, who is going about ten miles under the speed limit, is doing it on purpose – just to spite us!  A ticking clock can definitely make your blood pressure rise, and the result can be careless, aggressive driving.


An easy fix for this to give yourself an extra five or ten minutes to get to your destination.  That way unforeseen obstacles, such as a slow-moving car, won’t get under your skin.  Simple things like packing the kids’ lunches the night before, or laying out your outfit for that day ahead of time, will give your extra time in the morning to get where you need to go.  Having enough time can remove some anxiety from the morning commute.



·Listen To Soft Music


There’s a reason why piano music is normally played during dinner instead of, say, bone-crunching death metal.  Music has a profound effect on our moods, and can also influence our driving style.  Listen to loud, angry music and there’s a chance you will drive aggressively.  Relaxing, soothing tunes can take the edge off your drive and allow you to feel calmer on the road.



·Check Your Feelings At The Door


This is a saying that usually applies to the workplace.  Don’t let what is happening on the outside (your personal life) have an effect on your performance at work. 


Well, the same can be said for getting behind the wheel.  Don’t let your emotions guide the way your drive.  If you have just been in an argument with a spouse, friend, or co-worker, cool-off before you start up your vehicle.  Driving requires our total attention and emotional distractions can endanger us and the others that accompany us on the road.  Try not to let your problems ride shotgun – deal with them before or after you drive.  Handle it like a professional, like you would at your job.



·Take A Pit Stop


Much like a NASCAR driver, it’s important to take pull over for some maintenance when you are taking a long road trip.  Except this pit stop is for recharging your mind and body.  Relax for a few moments at a roadside rest stop.  Take a walk, breathe in some fresh air.  This will help break up a long, exhausting journey allowing you to feel more refreshed.



·Know How To Get There


There is nothing quite like the sensation of being lost.  It’s a panicky feeling, and it can push your stress-level to the breaking point.  Get directions to your destination, familiarize yourself with your route, or even invest in a GPS device (there are plenty of great, fairly inexpensive models available).  You will be less prone to make mistakes and overreact to other drivers if you feel confident in where you are headed.



·Do Onto Others


The golden rule also applies to our driving habits.  We all know what feels like to get cut-off – so try to avoid doing it to someone else.  Be polite, let people merge into traffic, get into the slow lane and allow people to pass.  Generally, be courteous and you may be surprised how this dictates the way you drive.  You will feel less stressed and less likely to react when another driver makes a poor decision.


And it is important to remember to never assume a careless act committed by another driver was done on purpose.  Often, the other driver simply isn’t paying attention and is not making an effort to anger you.  If someone does do something wrong, let it go.  It is not worth getting angry about, because as statistics have shown, road rage can be very dangerous, even fatal.


The lesson here is that road rage is really all about how stressed we feel.  If we are relaxed, at peace, and focused on the road, then it is unlikely that other drivers will annoy us.