Road rage is a widespread phenomenon, with nearly 80 percent of drivers admitting to expressing significant anger or aggression behind the wheel at some point in the past year.
With those odds, even your sweet Aunt Ruth has probably laid on her horn or flipped the bird at someone recently. That’s because the anonymity we sense when sitting in the protection of our car can actually embolden us to act more recklessly or aggressively towards others than we normally would.
So, what can you do about it? The next time you feel the heat rising while you’re behind the wheel, try out these five tips:
Take the community perspective.
Traffic is a social interaction; a give and take. It’s not a contest! There are no winners and losers on the road. In fact, all drivers are on the same team and need to work together to create a safe, orderly flow of traffic. Try practicing being a courteous driver, letting others pass and merge, and see how it makes you feel. You might be surprised.
Similarly, if someone cuts you off or takes a tight merge into your lane, try thinking of the situation from their point of view. They most likely weren’t doing it to be inconsiderate or reckless, but perhaps they were running late to work or to pick up their kids (just like you were yesterday).
Don’t be a vigilante.
A lot of road rage is triggered by what we see as incorrect driving by others. If you feel the heat rising because of someone else’s driving decisions, just remember, you can’t teach another motorist how to drive better by yelling or honking or tailgating. If someone is annoying you with what you perceive as problematic driving, don’t think “I need to teach them a lesson.” Try getting rid of the complex and leave the punishment to the highway patrol.
Give yourself extra travel time to cut back on stress.
It’s clear that road rage and stress are acutely related; so why not do yourself a favor and make sure you won’t be rushing once you get in your car? The feeling of being late or in a rush will only compound any stress you might already feel when you’re behind the wheel, rendering you steaming at the ears the moment you encounter any congestion or delays. Try waking up and leaving 15 minutes earlier than you need to feel more zen during your morning commute.
Be mindful and avoid aggravating triggers.
What kind of background noise do you have in your car? How about other stressful distractions? It should come as no surprise that listening to feuding talk radio hosts or hostile music if you are prone to road rage might not be the best idea. Try putting on an audiobook, listening to calming music, or practicing some deep breathing. And put down that phone!
Be aware when it’s happening.
Once you identify when you are lashing out, you’ll be able to better understand why, and train your actions accordingly. If you start getting riled up while at the wheel, see if you can observe the situation from the outside. Why are you getting upset? When you’ve pinpointed what’s making you feel angry, you’ll be able to better react with more purpose (and less temper-fueled instinct) the next time it happens.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to keeping our viewers accident-free, which is why we initiated the Drive Safe campaign. Steer clear of danger with our monthly tips.