Road rage is something most motorists experience at some point or another, but something very few people act on. When the phrase was coined in the 1980’s, it referred to rampant shootings on Interstate 405 in California. And while many of us are never likely to experience that level of roadside aggression, we may encounter aggressive drivers that use rude words and gestures in a futile attempt to move traffic forward.
Aggressive driving tactics are dangerous to the driver and other motorists on any roadway, as it puts everyone at higher risk for collision and injury as well as property damage. And while there is no clearly defined law against aggressive driving, people experiencing road rage and engaging in aggressive driving often break traffic laws by speeding, not using their blinker, running stoplights, or not giving other motorists right of way. This kind of driving poses a huge risk to others on the average commute.
Dealing with road rage however, is relatively easy and has the possibility to improve commuting for everyone. But first we have to recognize when road rage is occurring.
Signs that you or someone near you is experiencing road rage:
- The driver is expressing anger through gestures, yelling, or honking their horn repeatedly.
- The driver is flashing their headlights incessantly to distract or get the attention of other motorists.
- The vehicle is changing lanes frequently and quickly.
- The driver behind you is “tailgating” or driving significantly close to your bumper.
- (In traffic) a driver has exited their vehicle in order to confront another driver.
- A driver intentionally collides with another vehicle
- A driver produces a weapon or other firearm.
If you are experiencing road rage and are engaging in any of these actions, there are plenty of ways to re-direct this aggression and get to a calmer state.
The first thing you should do is pull off the road if you can, find a parking lot or side-street and take a few minutes to calm down. Get out of your car and breathe some fresh air if you think that would help. A common technique for calming is breathing exercises: inhaling for four seconds, and exhaling for seven or eight. If this fails to make you more relaxed after a few minutes then you may consider calling a friend to vent your frustrations verbally.
Stress is the prime contributor to road rage, whether you find that stress on the road, or bring it with you from work or home is irrelevant. Finding peace and relieving stress can positively affect your driving style, and your daily outlook.
If you have to stay in the car, it may be helpful to keep a stress-ball in your glove compartment, and squeeze it repeatedly to relieve stress. If this is also not an option, switching your radio station to a calmer channel can help as well. If you listen to more aggressive or active music, studies show that music can affect your mood in many situations, therefore switching to a calmer station may help calm your current emotions of rage.
If you notice another driver engaging in dangerous, reckless, or aggressive behavior the easiest way to avoid collision r injury is to avoid the other motorist. Keep a safe distance and do not engage with the other driver. If you feel threatened or in danger call 911 and let them know of your emergency. Do not try to calm down a raging driver, just keep your distance and try to remain calm yourself.