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Tips for Dealing with Road Rage

Posted August 19, 2016

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How many people can honestly say they have never gotten angry at another driver while on the road? Who hasn’t hurled a few choice words, or reacted with a rude gesture when a car swoops in front of them with mere inches to spare?  And how often does that anger escalate into something more?

According to a recent survey by AAA, 80 percent of drivers say they have expressed anger, aggression or road rage at least once in the past year.  This does include yelling and honking and angry gestures — all of which are unpleasant but not necessarily dangerous. But 51 percent of people admitted that they tailgated the offending driver on purpose; 24 percent blocked someone from changing lanes; 12 percent deliberately cut off another vehicle; 4 percent got out of their car to argue with the driver who upset them and 3 percent rammed another vehicle on purpose.

So the roads are filled with angry drivers, many of them ready to use their car as a weapon. Amazingly enough, otherwise mild-mannered folks can find themselves building up to that point themselves. Neither situation is good for someone who spends a lot of time driving.

An article in Psychology Today a few years ago offered a few suggestions to drivers for avoiding road rage in themselves:

  • Practice stress breathing – when someone pulls a stupid move on the road, inhale for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four and keep repeating those steps until the anger dissipates.
  • Practice kindness to yourself, by realizing that you can’t control other people.
  • Be compassionate to others and stop caring about your “space.” Listen to music and enjoy that, while realizing that road rage is silly.
  • Don’t make eye contact with other drivers, and just focus on controlling your vehicle.

Avoiding another driver with road rage can best be avoided by being a considerate driver. The AAA advises:

  • Be careful when merging that you don’t cut another driver off. If you make a mistake, indicate that you know you are at fault and gesture an apology.
  • If you are in a left hand lane and somebody wants to pass you, move to the right when you can. Even if you are doing the speed limit, or a bit over it, just remember that the left lane is the passing lane.
  • Don’t tailgate.
  • Signal when you merge and change lanes.
  • Be the better person. If somebody wants to merge in front of you, say, “be my guest.” If two of you are angling for the same parking space, let them have it.

Traffic and time pressure can combine to make drive time extremely frustrating. Until the roads fill up with safe, collision-avoiding vehicles, it’s up to drivers to keep road rage at bay.

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