How to Avoid Road Rage
Road rage involves outbursts of often irrational anger or frustration brought on by difficult driving conditions, and is a very real danger for many motorists. It can happen to anyone at any time if he or she is not prepared, regardless of whether the driver is headed on a cross-country road trip, driving to a family member or friend’s house, trekking into the city to start a long work day, commuting back home after a typical nine-to-five, or stopped by an accident or spate of construction, among other possible scenarios.
A lot of things can trigger a driver or passenger’s road rage, most of which have to do with anxiety. Being late for meetings, appointments, or to pick up a loved one from school or being helplessly stuck in gridlocked traffic jams for hours behind an accident are common, but following slower-than-average or more erratic-than-average motorists, unsafe weather conditions like rain or snow, and even just a busy day can all be triggers.
The good news is there are plenty of tricks to help you combat road rage when it comes upon you. Here are a few of our favorites.
7 Tips to Mitigate Road Rage
As drivers, we can’t always predict what will happen to us on the road or plan for the unexpected, but we can control how we react to those elements. Try some of these ideas the next time you feel yourself experiencing road rage.
Recognize Feelings & Label Them
Sometimes simply giving your frustrations a name can help minimize what you’re feeling, as the anxiety of not truly understanding your emotions can compound them. Recognize the signs and symptoms of road rage and remind yourself that that’s what you’re experiencing. These include:
- Anger or frustration
- Chest tightness
- Emotional outbursts
- Erratic behaviors Irritability
- Racing thoughts and irrational responses
- Tremors or tingling sensations
Take 3 Deep Breaths
Taking a deep breath immediately starts to calm the stress response, but one is not enough to return the self-preservation, fight-or-flight response to a normal level. Take at least three, maybe even five to ten, to calm yourself down before reacting to stressors around you.
Most reactions, especially those of anger, are born out of an inherent need for self-preservation. Things that are beyond our control make us anxious, which leads to frustration and anger. Some high-stress situations can trigger outright anger before frustration, giving motorists little time to try to calm themselves before their rage hits.
Know Road Rage Responses
Motorists who experience road rage have likely felt it in the past, which means they also likely can pinpoint how they respond when they find themselves in those situations. Ask yourself a few questions to identify your road rage-related reactions:
- How do you feel once you notice you are experiencing road rage? Which of the physical reactions listed above do you recognize as feelings you’ve felt?
- How do you speak to others when you are in this state? Are you terse with others, including your loved ones? Are you quick to quip or verbally jab when you normally would not?
- How do you act when you are in this state? Does your driving become more aggressive? Are you less courteous to other drivers? Do you pound on the steering wheel or otherwise physically express your frustration?
Recognizing how you act when you are experiencing road rage will help you to calm down those reactions and help you avoid further irritation thus avoiding hurting others, causing a scene, or putting fellow motorists in danger.
Try The Numbers & Colors Trick
This option is typically used to help those with anxiety bring themselves back to the present moment, but can also aid in removing those experiencing frustration or anger from a similar emotional cycle. Select a number one through ten. In this example, we’ll choose five. Then select a random color, which we’ll say is green. You will then be asked to find five objects that are green, taking a deep breath after each one. Repeat as necessary with other numbers and colors until you feel your internal system return to homeostasis.
Call a Close Friend or Loved One
No one likes getting stuck in traffic or being frustrated by other conditions while on the road, but sometimes hearing the voice of someone you care about can help mitigate the issue and pass the time. Catch up with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or call a family member to pass the time while you’re sitting in that gridlock. Hearing a friendly voice goes a long way toward keeping your anxiety and frustration levels down.
Nothing puts things in perspective when you’re frustrated like making a list of things you’re thankful for. Start with easy things like family members, friends, pets, and other life staples, then work up to bigger items like having food on the table, or having the ability and freedom to drive at all. Reminding yourself of your blessings will help minimize any anger or resentment you’re feeling regarding your current road-related predicament.
No one likes to get cut off by an aggressive driver or to have to slam on his or her beaks because someone up ahead decided not to stop sooner. It is easy to imagine the worst possible scenario, like the driver was texting or that he or she has done something to you intentionally.
Instead, try to imagine all the reasons motorists could be doing the things that irritate you. Rather than assuming they believe their commute is more important than yours, consider that they need to get somewhere to address an emergency. Instead of believing the person is a bad or careless driver, consider they might be distracted because something difficult is going on in their personal life. This way of thinking will minimize emotional responses and help avoid snap-to-anger reactions.Regardless of what causes your road rage, it is important to know how to prevent it before it happens or mitigate it once you recognize it’s occurring. Know the signs and remember these tricks the next time you’re frustrated on the road. If you experience this type of situation or witness such an incident that causes an accident, find a safe place to park and call for help. Local police and tow truck roadside assistance will arrive on the scene to take care of the problem and ensure everyone is safe.