One of the most common (and quite jaw-dropping) transformations you’ll ever see in modern society is one involving a mild-mannered person exploding in pure rage when someone cuts them off, keeps them from merging or changing lanes, changes lanes sans signal, and so on.
Just what is road rage?
Merriam-Webster defines road rage as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.”
For some drivers, according to Psychology Today,
It’s a need for control, to counter other drivers whom they feel violate their proxemic space, or it’s a need for possession of their lane or their part of the road. For others, it’s unchecked anger and aggression. It’s hormone-based, primitive, small-brain thinking, bringing a lack of emotional intelligence and the need to dominate someone else and their unsharable space. Add in unchecked egos, the need for superiority, narcissistic pride, and male genital one-upmanship (my vehicle is bigger than yours).
Obviously, you want to avoid exploding into road rage. It’s dangerous, as well as embarrassing (especially in an age when there’s never a shortage of people who will happily record anything to post on social media).
So how do you keep your temper in check when you’re behind the wheel?
Here are 8 ways how:
This not only keeps you from getting in or causing an accident, it keeps you from getting on the wrong side of aggressive drivers. Just let them go around you; generally, they will do so and be on their way, never mind if they fail to acknowledge your courtesy.
Avoid driving when you’re not in the best shape for the task.
If you’re angry, upset, or drowsy, wait until you feel able to take on the road in a better frame of mind or when you’re more alert. Alternatively, you can have someone get behind the wheel, or you can call a cab if you really need to be somewhere and being late is not an option.
Be realistic and reasonable when it comes to travel time expectations.
Know the traffic situation in your route. Give yourself plenty of time if you will need to pass a stretch of road where traffic will be dragging. You can’t expect to honk your way past other vehicles to get to your destination faster.
Use the horn only when absolutely necessary.
Speaking of honking, unless you have an emergency, avoid using your horn. Honking can distract other drivers, and, of course, trigger the aggressive ones. If you really need to get another driver’s attention—say, the light has already turned green and the car ahead of you has not moved yet—just give your horn a light tap, but then try and wait a few seconds before doing so.
Practice polite driving habits, every day.
Polite drivers don’t speed, tailgate, cut off other vehicles, weave in and out of lanes, drive with their headlights on high beam, brake erratically, drive on the left lane slower than the rest, honk their horn without good reason.
Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt.
Not all drivers who cut you off or block you are intentionally being rude to you. Everybody makes honest mistakes, and the last thing you want is to start screaming at the other driver who turns out to be a really decent person who probably just happened to be distracted by something or was just hurrying home to a sick child.
Avoid racing with another driver.
Leave the racing to the race car drivers. Keep your eye on the prize—in this case, it’s getting home or getting to work or a meeting somewhere in one perfectly functional piece.
Apologize if you’re in the wrong.
This is an ability that can smooth the way for you on the road—and out of trouble. If you’ve done any of the things a polite and responsible driver shouldn’t do, say you’re sorry, and mean it. Or simply make the proper gesture to apologize, like a wave or an apologetic smile.
If your mistake has made another driver angry, don’t get angry as well. Apologize, sincerely, and then be on your way.
Navigating the road in this day and age requires you to have your wits about you at all times and your temper under control. People get hurt, or killed, for less. Don’t give aggressive drivers a reason to take out their anger on you, and, certainly, don’t drive if you’re not in a healthy frame of mind.
It’s not just good car maintenance and sharp driving skills that will keep you safe on the road. The right attitude will keep you out of harm’s way too!