Road rage (or aggressive driving) is something many people deal with on a daily basis. While often it is the rage of other drivers that we encounter on the roadway, there are also occasions when each of us gets angry while driving.
Here are a few tips to help prevent road rage and continue being the safe driver that you want to be.
Get enough sleep each night.
It may seem like your sleeping habits have little to nothing to do with your propensity to become enraged while driving, but they do. When people don’t get enough sleep they tend to be grumpier than usual and their anger quicker to trigger. If you are well rested, it is much easier to control yourself when faced with driving stresses.
Leave for appointments and work early.
If you have to be somewhere, for instance work, at a certain time and lateness can affect you adversely, driving can have added stresses. Road blockages, slow drivers, and rubberneckers are more likely to annoy you if you are trying desperately to play a game of ‘Beat the Clock’. Getting up early and leaving for all appointments early gives you an extra layer of confidence and takes away a lot of anxiety.
Remember that you are not invincible.
Chances are good that you’ve heard about cyber bullying, a sort of computer version of road rage. Computers and the anonymity they bring make it easy for us to act in ways online that we normally wouldn’t. Cars have the same effect on people. In a car, you might feel safe and untouchable. You already know you don’t have to have a face-to-face confrontation with the other driver that you are angry with, and you may even feel invincible. But you are not—and neither are the other drivers around you. Road rage can quickly escalate into something much more dangerous than just exchanging heated words, and being in a car doesn’t offer any protection from that escalation.
Blow off steam before driving.
Sometimes, events in our personal lives lead us to have less patience than usual. If this happens to be the case for you, try to blow off some steam before you get in the car. Jog, walk, play pool, punch a pillow—do whatever you have to do to tire your anger before you even begin to drive.
Forgive and forget.
There’s a good chance that somewhere along the line you’ve done something to anger another driver without even meaning to. Maybe you cut someone off because they were in your blind spot; maybe you think you leave a reasonable distance when you are following another car, but other drivers have felt like you were tailgating them; maybe you’ve even driven slowly in front of someone who was in a hurry to get somewhere at a certain time. In each of these examples, while you didn’t do anything intentionally to anger other drivers, you could have done so inadvertently. It is likely that many of the people who anger you while driving are accidentally doing so too. Just like you would prefer other drivers to forgive you when you are guilty of this, so too should you forgive other drivers.
Don’t respond to the anger of others.
Sometimes, you aren’t the one to get road rage, someone else is. And when they yell at you or make obscene hand gestures, you may start to feel your own rage building in response. If this is the case, you should never, ever act on your anger. Do not respond to the road rage of another. If anything, you should remove yourself from the situation. Get out of the other driver’s way or safely change lanes so that your driving no longer affects them.
Every driver on the road is responsible for keeping road rage under control. By being present and paying attention while driving and using the tips above to help temper your own anger, you can help ensure that you are never involved in a devastating but preventable incident of road rage.
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