You’re late for work, and your nerves are shot. If you are late one more time, you’re getting written up by your boss. You have 1001 things on your mind, and someone pulls in front of you, going 45 in a 60-mph zone. The road rage kicks in.
So, it begins. Rather than kindly pass them, you honk your horn, yell a few choice words, and make a big spectacle as you go by. Could you have an issue with road rage? It’s a widespread problem with dangerous implications. According to Car Insurance 101, road rage is the number one cause of accidents in the United States.
Shockingly, here are some disturbing facts about rage behind the wheel that you should consider:
- Nearly 94 percent of accidents are caused by road rage.
- Road anger attributes to over 30 murders every year.
- 80 percent of people experience frequent agitation behind the wheel.
- Aggressive driving will cause fatalities in two out of three crashes.
- Males are more prone to driving with rage than women.
- Teenagers are the most aggressive drivers, specifically males.
- Mississippi holds the record for the state with the most road rage.
It just seems natural to be upset when someone cuts you off in traffic, pulls out in front of you, or nearly causes you to wreck. You’re only human, and these emotions are typical when someone has done you wrong.
13 Tips for Fixing Your Road Rage
It’s imperative to get your aggressive driving under control as 100 people will die every day in this country due to this common issue. Here are some things that you can do psychologically to help you lay off the horn and have a peaceful time behind the wheel.
1. Get Up Earlier, So You’re Not Late
Most people are so frustrated behind the wheel because they’re always running late. You can stop this vicious cycle by only getting up a half-hour earlier. If you know that the traffic is bad where you will be traveling, you need to allow yourself extra time.
Avoid the very thing that gives you rage, which is being late. You will see a significant change in your driving demeanor when you thwart the things causing the issue.
2. Find A New Route
If you must travel I-95 every day to work, then you already know that it’s going to be crazy busy. However, is there a way that you can avoid using this route? What if you took some side streets or the scenic road instead of the fast lane?
While it may take you 10-15 minutes longer to avoid the freeway, you can certainly keep yourself from going into a rage. An incident on the way to work can transform your attitude for the whole day.
3. Listen to Music
Have you ever heard the old saying that “Music calms the savage beast?” Well, you should use that theology to calm your inner rage when driving down life’s highways. Turn on some music that makes you feel good. It’s hard to be angry when you’re jamming to your favorite tunes.
Perhaps you wouldn’t be so prone to rage if you had someone with you. Having someone carpool with you can be the answer to your problem, especially if anxiety is at the crux of the issue. When you’re chatting and enjoying good conversation, it’s easier to let small driving infractions pass you by.
5. Take the Bus
If you work in a bustling area, then there will be times when you can’t avoid crazy traffic that gives you a headache. Many sites have some public transportation that can help you avoid the traffic nightmare. Why not sit back and relax with a good book or some music and leave the driving to someone else?
6. Meditate Before Driving
It helps to use meditation before you get behind the wheel. You can learn proper breathing techniques and get your mind-body-spirit centered before you get on the road. Ensure that you use a calming meditation and not one that is supposed to put you to sleep.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
One of the main reasons people are so on edge behind the wheel is that they didn’t get sufficient sleep the night before. If you don’t have at least 7-9 hours of shut-eye, then you’re going to be cranky the following day. Have you ever seen a baby that cries and screams when they’re sleepy?
Well, road rage can be kind of like a temper tantrum when an adult is exhausted. No one likes to deal with a cranky person, so get the rest you need.
Did you know that tailgating is one of the biggest causes of aggressive driving rage? When someone is riding your bumper, and you feel as if you stop, they will ram into you, it’s a cause for alarm.
Now, you need to make sure that you don’t do the same thing to others. Allow at least 2-3 car lengths between you and everyone on the road to avoid tailgating induced rage.
9. Learn Your Triggers
It’s essential to note your mental triggers. Once you find the things that drive you crazy, then you should go out of your way to avoid these things. For instance, if you hate trying to merge left when traffic is coming in from the right, you should get over earlier rather than later.
Oncoming traffic can be a nightmare to deal with, so by avoiding the trigger, you can prevent an aggressive meltdown.
10. Put A Photo on Your Dashboard
What are the things that matter most to you in this life? Do you have a spouse, children, parents you adore? Why not put a picture on your dash of the thing that keeps you going each day?
Anytime you feel like your rage is about to hit a boiling point, look at those that count on you. You can use this as a reminder that you need to calm down because people count on you to make it home alive.
11. Learn Rhythmic Breathing
For many drivers, rage is nothing more than your anxiety boiling over the top. An article in Psychology Today suggests that deep breathing is an effective way to control your anger.
If you have a problem with pressure, you can use little tricks to help you get things under control. Rhythmic breathing is merely inhaling deeply through your nose, holding it for a few seconds, then exhaling through your mouth.
The beauty of this controlled breathing is that it can calm your heart rate, anxiety, and rage all at once. Plus, it can increase your focus, which is essential on the road.
12. Count To Ten
Before you put your hand on that horn, count to ten. Have you ever heard that you need to go outside and count until you calm down when disciplining a child? The same principle is in place on the roadways.
If you’re feeling really “hot-headed,” then you should pull over until you can gain composure. However, mentally counting to ten forces the brain to focus on something else besides the crazy driver in front of you.
13. Take A Driving Class
Road rage is a major issue in this country. Many classes are focused on helping people to channel this negative energy into something positive. A quick course filled with videos of what happens when aggressive driving is used can be eye-opening.
Accessing the Risk
Since road rage is such an issue, it’s worth taking a self-test to see how much at risk you’re behind the wheel and if your driving is in danger of causing an accident. Can you answer yes to any of these factors?
- Speeding and running red lights because you are always running late.
- Tailgating people who get in the fast lane going slow.
- Flashing your lights or honking the horn while driving.
- Yelling obscenities to those drivers who tick you off.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Thinking you should correct people who don’t know how to drive.
How many of these statements sounded like you when you’re behind the wheel? Do you see where there is room for you to make improvements?
Driving down life’s highways is scary enough without adding rage to the mix. One wrong decision while behind the wheel of an automobile can cost your life and the lives of others. Thankfully, there are ways that you can get your rage under control.
It’s possible that at the core of your aggressive behaviors is an anxiety disorder. If anxiety is causing you to be a frantic mess while driving, you should talk to a doctor or therapist. It could be that your rage is generated from a lack of sleep, frequent problems being late, and general stress that comes from traveling bustling thoroughfares.
An article posted on the National Library of Medicine referenced a Plos One psychological study that found that many drivers who engage in aggressive driving are often those with ADHD. Interestingly, impulse control issues can also play a part in the type of driver you become.
Whatever the reason behind your road rage, it’s time to get it under control. You don’t want to be or cause another statistic or incident that could have been avoided.