Although few like to admit it, many of us can recall incidents when our anger got the better of us whilst driving. Road rage is stressful and can often make a bad situation worse. It can even be dangerous. Read the rest of this article for tips on how to deal with road rage.
If we each do our bit to keep our temper under control whilst behind the wheel, we can make the roads safer for everyone. To help you develop Zen-like patience when you’re out in your car, we’ve put together three of our favourite techniques for relieving road rage.
Take a deep breath
If another driver does something rude or dangerous – or even crashes into your vehicle – remember to take a deep breath before responding. Road rage is generally caused by an explosion of emotional anger. Controlling this initial burst of rage will help you to stay calm and prevent the red mist from descending around you.
If your first deep breath hasn’t done the trick, keep going. It might sound like a tired cliché, but by taking deep breaths you are buying yourself time to calm down before you respond to the incident. The more time you can give yourself before responding, the less likely it is you’ll overreact.
Turn the music down
Loud music, especially aggressive music, can make you feel more emotional, more angry and more volatile. If you enjoy listening to loud or angry music, turn it down or switch it off entirely whenever something happens that’s likely to make you feel angry.
Loud and aggressive music can make us feel ‘pumped up’ as it causes our bodies to release adrenaline. Turning it down will help to lower your adrenaline levels and bring your body out of ‘flight or fight’ mode. This will help you to communicate more effectively with other drivers. It will make sure you can hear other vehicles approaching or manoeuvring.
If another driver does something selfish or foolish or actually puts you in danger, your instinctive response might be to shout and get angry.
However, instead of leaning on your horn or raising your voice, in the first instance try to rationalise what just happened. If you want to effectively deal with your road rage, it’s important to take a second to remember it’s not all about you.
In the vast majority of cases, the other driver won’t have acted dangerously or foolishly on purpose. Instead, remember that they’ve might’ve just made a mistake. If so, they might now be feeling anxious, self-conscious and a little bit rattled.
Reacting aggressively to the situation will only make things worse. You might end up making the other driver more nervous, which will cause them to make further mistakes. Or worse, they might go the other way and get angry with you in return. People made very poor decisions when they are angry — some people can become extremely dangerous when provoked by a tirade of abuse.
Yet again, it all comes back to giving yourself time. Running through these considerations in your head, and rationalising the situation before you respond to the incident will give you time to calm down and take control of your emotions.
Learning how to deal with road rage and practising keeping your temper under control will make you a better driver. It’ll also make you feel better as the stress caused by anger can make you feel physically ill and lead to health complications further down the road.
For further information, we recommend reading this RoSPA Road Rage Factsheet. It provides further information on managing road rage on the part of yourself or others.
If you’d like to improve your driving skills and learn how to manage other drivers effectively, take a look at our advanced driving course. If you haven’t passed your test yet, why not take advantage of our introductory driving lesson offer to see how we can help set you up for a lifetime of safe and calm driving.