3 Tips to Help You Avoid Road Rage
If you have ever been a victim of road rage, you know how scary and dangerous it can be to face a fellow driver whose judgment is clouded by seething anger. On the other hand, if you have engaged in a road rage yourself, you may now recall the incident with shame and disbelief at how you allowed yourself to be carried away by negative emotions so quickly. In this article, you will find 3 useful tips to help ensure that you will never find yourself at the giving nor the receiving end of road rage.
Aggressive driving and road rage are the leading causes of accidents in the US, and drivers in New Mexico are not immune to this national trend. Take a couple of the shocking news headlines over the past few months for example: “Bullets narrowly miss woman during road rage incident,” or “Military veteran with children in backseat opens fire during road rage incident in New Mexico.” Clearly, road rage is as serious a concern in New Mexico as it is anywhere else in the country.
Nationwide Statistics on Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
These road rage incidents are not merely isolated cases. In a survey conducted by The Zebra at the end of 2019, as much as 82 percent of American drivers interviewed admitted to engaging in road rage at least once in the previous year.
In fact, the data shows that dangerous road rage incidents are constantly on the rise, becoming ever more extreme. According to one source, in 2014, there were 241 cases in which a driver either pulled out a gun on or shot another motorist. In 2016, this number more than doubled; and in the first 6 months of 2017, road rage-related gun violence took place nearly twice a day.
Disturbingly enough, both road rage and aggressive driving—its milder form—regularly contribute to fatalities. In reality, one source states that about two-thirds of all fatal crashes are caused by aggressive driving. Clearly, the danger is all too real.
Defining Road Rage
To avoid all forms of road rage and be a part of positive change on our roads, you need to be clearly aware of what kinds of behavior on the road can be counted as such.
First, it is important to recognize the distinction between aggressive driving and road rage. While aggressive driving can be a traffic offense, road rage is classified as a criminal charge. However milder the former may seem, it still encompasses dangerous practices that may lead to serious or fatal accidents.
More specifically, examples of aggressive driving include:
- Improper lane changing
- Passing where prohibited
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to obey traffic signs
- Other forms of recklessness
Road rage can be a more hostile and direct form of a driver’s aggression, one that shows willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.
According to AAA, common examples of road rage include:
- Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
- Throwing objects
- Forcing a driver off the road
In the following section, you will discover advice that will help you avoid both aggressive driving and road rage.
Tip #1: Reduce Your Stress and Control Your Stress Response
This advice can help you avoid both initiating a road rage incident as well as retaliating. Reducing stress may be simpler than you think—some effective techniques include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. Even if you believe your control over stress in life is limited, you may still effectively control how you respond to stress.
For example, according to Dr. Mithu Storoni, a stress expert, you can control your stress response by disengaging the emotional part of the brain right after a stressful incident. This can be done by completely immersing yourself in a task requiring cognitive effort such as puzzle-solving, memory games, or playing Tetris and the like.
Tip #2: Learn How to De-Escalate Conflict on the Road
You can’t control how other drivers act, but you can control how you react to road rage. Showing a tolerant and forgiving attitude may at times prove to be difficult—especially when someone cuts you off or fails to give you the right of way. Still, aggression only breeds aggression, while learning to overlook other drivers’ faults can protect you from becoming a victim of dangerous road rage incidents.
When confronted with road rage, AAA advises taking the following actions:
- Avoiding eye contact with angry drivers
- Staying as calm and courteous as possible
- Refraining from making gestures
- Calling 9-1-1 if necessary
Tip #3: Control Your Driving Environment
If you have engaged in road rage in the past or are aware that you might have some anger management problems, learn to be proactive to prevent it from happening again. Controlling your driving environment is one strategy that may help you resist the surge of negative emotions when a stressful situation on the road comes your way.
Controlling your driving environment includes:
- Giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Trusting that you will make it on time even if you run into something unexpected, like a traffic jam, will help you be able to deal with the unpleasant surprise calmly.
- Calming yourself down. You may learn breathing techniques to help you calm down or listen to peaceful, calming music while driving.
- Taking a break during long trips. Driving long hours can be not only stressful but also tiring—and if you’re exhausted, you are also less likely to show self-control and restraint. Taking a break can help you rest, relax, and wind down.
Finally, always keep in mind that road rage and aggressive driving are the leading causes of accidents in the US. Remembering this will motivate you to do all that is in your power to protect yourself and others from these destructive behaviors—and thus, you will help make the roads in our state safer for everyone.