Many of us have been guilty of road rage at some point in our lives, and a lot of us will have experienced the wrath of another driver too.
When we look at recent road rage statistics in the US, many of us will be able to relate to the findings by the researchers behind the stats.
According to the study, 82% of drivers in the US have admitted to having road rage over the last twelve months.
Many of the people admitting to road rage have retaliated by honking their horn, shouting aggressively at other drivers, and using obscene gestures at others.
As you can see in the statistics, the road rage in some has escalated. 7% of those surveyed got out of their vehicle to verbally confront another driver, 6% had a physical altercation, and 5% used their vehicles to force other drivers off the road.
It’s a common problem, and as you can see from the article we linked you to, road rage has been responsible for thousands of fatal traffic incidents.
Why Do People Get Road Rage?
There are all kinds of reasons why somebody might get angry on the roads, and chances are, you may have experienced some of these yourself.
Feelings of stress before driving
General feelings of stress before getting into the vehicle can be one contributing factor. After all, many of us have entered the drivers’ seat after having an argument with another or after experiencing some other kind of stressful situation. With patience already low, we are then more liable to get angry with another driver or pedestrian when on the road, as the anger inside us might already be rising.
We have all experienced gridlock, and the stress of such a situation. With the sun beating down, causing us to get more than a little hot under the collar (literally), and with our mind on the places we need to be within strict time limits, it is very easy to lose our cool when stuck in the middle of traffic for hours on end.
You need only think of Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down, who was tipped over the edge in the film’s opening scene, as the stress of being stuck in traffic finally got the better of him. His road rage was taken to extreme levels, of course.
Let’s face it; other drivers sometimes do foolish things. Learner drivers are particularly prone to making mistakes, and this can cause some of us to get riled up behind the wheel.
Those drivers who move too slowly can also cause us frustration, and the people who pull out at junctions too early can also cause us to flare up. Then there are those drivers who tailgate us, and the pedestrians who step out in front of us, two other instigators of feelings of road rage.
These are just a few examples; if you have ever experienced road rage, from the perspective of the angry driver or the victim, you might be able to think of others.
Getting Your Road Rage Under Control
If you don’t get your road rage under control, you might do something you later regret. You might cause an accident, and this could lead to an injury or a fatality. You could damage your car and suffer the financial consequences, and if you do cause damage to another, you could face fines, jail sentences, and lifelong feelings of guilt over your reckless actions.
So, what can you do to tame your anger?
Don’t get in the car while angry
Drinking and driving isn’t the only deadly combination. Getting into the car while angry is another problem that needs to be stopped because as we discussed previously, this can make a person more liable to feelings of road rage. So, if you’re shaking with rage before stepping into your car, take a few moments to calm down.
Practice breathing exercises, go for a walk, talk to somebody you know with the power to relax you, and try to gain some perspective on what it is you are feeling. When you then get into the car feeling calm, you will then reduce your chances of getting road rage, and you will reduce your chances of getting into an accident.
Create a calm environment in your car
Sorry, but loud rock music on your car stereo isn’t going to help your mood any. Especially when feeling the beginning of road rage, it is wise to play calming music, as this might cause you to experience a more peaceful frame of mind.
Calming scents can help too, so consider these personalized air fresheners for your car. And if you’re ever going to make changes to your car’s interior, you might want to choose colors that generate feelings of calm, such as blue, green, and yellow when you’re replacing your seat covers, etc.
Remember people aren’t perfect
You know people aren’t perfect, so don’t expect everybody to be a good driver when out on the roads. People will make mistakes, especially if they’re very young or very old. People will annoy you purposefully when you’re on the road. And people will behave in all kinds of ways that are inappropriate while driving. But here’s the thing about these people – you can’t change them. Even if you shout or honk your horn at them, you don’t have the power to change their behavior.
But while you can’t change them, you can change yourself. You can alter your attitude, so if somebody does do something that infuriates you, you can choose not to let your anger get the better of you. So, practice safe calming exercises in the car, pull over if you need to calm down, and be thankful that you aren’t as foolish as the people you see on the roads before you.
Think of the consequences
Sure, you could get angry at somebody else, but before you do, think about the possible scenarios that could follow. You might cause an accident and harm yourself or others. You could kill somebody, and that would land you with a prison sentence and a lifetime of guilt. And you could face police fines, insurance hikes, and car maintenance bills too. So, while you might be tempted to let off steam with an obscene gesture or an impromptu car chase on the highway, think twice before you do, as what happens next might be disastrous.
Dealing With The Road Rage In Others
While some of us are prone to road rage, there are times when we can become the victims too. When somebody shouts at us, honks their horn at us, or tries to intimidate us in other ways, we need to find safe ways to deal with the problem.
Be mindful of your own behavior
If somebody does get angry with you, don’t do anything that will fuel their ire further. Don’t shout back in anger, don’t get into a heated car vs car battle on the road, and don’t do anything else that is best left in a Mad Max movie. If you can stay calm, the other driver might shut up and go along on their (less than) merry way, and you will be able to keep yourself and others safe from an accident.
Pull over if you can
If it is safe for you to do so, pull over to the side of the road. You will be able to calm yourself down if you are upset or angry, and you will give the other driver time to continue on their way. Get back in your car when you have composed yourself, and hopefully, you will then have a more peaceful ride ahead of you.
Call the police
You don’t want to pick up your phone while you’re driving, but if you have a hands-free kit fitted, and if you feel threatened or worried about the safety of others, give the police a call. Give them the registration number of the other driver, and let them know where you are. Hopefully, action will then be taken to deal with the aggressive driver. Do the same if you pull over, but keep your doors locked if the other driver gets out of their car to threaten you. And if they do approach your car, beep your horn to indicate to others that you might need help, or pull away again if it is safe for you to do so.
Always Be A Safe Driver
The best way to avoid road rage is this: Always be a safe driver. If you follow highway laws, you won’t fuel the anger in others. And if you do start to get agitated, remember that safety needs to be your #1 priority. By staying safe, you will protect your own life and the lives of others, so make sure you know the laws of the road, and if you are in any doubt, take a refresher course.
Road rage is a problem we all need to deal with, from both perspectives, but if we can handle it safely, we will bring down those statistics that we highlighted at the beginning of this article.
Take care today when you’re out on the road.
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