Tips to Avoid Road Rage
We’ve all been there. You’re running late, or maybe just having a bad day, when another driver cuts you off without warning. Your face turns red and your blood begins to boil. You honk your horn, flash your lights, or even throw out a not-so-nice gesture. You may even begin to aggressively maneuver in and out of lanes, angling to get a look at the driver who wronged you. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. According to AAA, “nearly 80 percent of drivers express significant anger, aggression or road rage.” Even worse, it’s been estimated that up to 66% of traffic fatalities are in part due to aggressive driving and road rage. So how do we learn to channel inner peace when behind the wheel? In this article, we’ll discuss several tips to help you the next time you begin to feel road rage coming on.
Leave Your Ego at the Door
One of the most important things to remember is that unless you race for NASCAR or Formula 1, driving is not a competition. There are no medals to be awarded or trophies to be won. Everyone on the road, like you, is just trying to navigate safely from Point A to Point B. So if someone wants to speed by you, let them. If someone is tailgating you, switch lanes and let them pass. Likewise, if you’re the one always jockeying for position, weaving in and out of lanes, realize that the few seconds you may save isn’t worth the potential accident you may cause. Just think of how many times you’ve aggressively passed someone only to end up with them right behind you at the next light. Leave your ego at home and you’ll be far less likely to lose your cool behind the wheel.
Drive Like Your Grandmother is in the Car With You
Oftentimes when we’re alone in the car, we may act, or react in a completely different manner than we would in the presence of others. Where we might be tempted to get loud and aggressive on our own, patience and humility may prevail when we have company. To help keep road rage to a minimum, try imagining that your grandmother (or any other calming influence) is in the car with you. You’ll be far less likely to let your emotions get the better of you.
De-escalate the Situation
If you find yourself in a situation where another driver is becoming aggressive towards you, you should attempt to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible. This can be done in several ways.
- Keep your distance – Like a dangerous animal, you want to give an aggressive driver a wide berth. Slow down, or even turn onto a different roadway in order to put a safe amount of distance between you and them.
- Avoid Retaliation – As tempting as it may be to “get even” with another driver, it’s a big mistake that will only make the situation worse. Avoid making gestures or even eye contact with an aggressive driver. Simply keep your focus straight ahead and block them out.
- Don’t Stop or Exit Your Vehicle – Pulling over and exiting your vehicle is inviting a face-to-face confrontation. Instead, just continue on towards your intended destination.
- Keep Your Eyes Open – If you believe that another driver is following you, keep your doors and windows locked and travel directly to the closest police station. If you still feel unsafe, don’t hesitate to call the police station so that they can come outside and investigate the situation.