Driving on today’s city streets, busy intersections, and super-fast highways requires patience. It is very easy to lose one’s temper when another motorist does something that can endanger the lives of others. Road rage is a phenomenon that is now becoming so common. About two-thirds of all vehicular accidents are road rage-related. A third of all motorists involved in road rage incidents carry guns. Half of the victims of road rage become aggressors themselves. These are some of the most shocking statistics about road rage that we don’t hear from the news very often. The question now is how do you deal with it? How can you control that boiling temper when another motorist is getting on your nerves? Well, we’ve got 10 tips for you on how to deal with road rage.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
One of the most common reasons why tempers fly on the road is because of poor quality of sleep or lack thereof. Your mind needs to be at its best functioning whenever you’re on the road. It needs to integrate the visual and auditory cues coming from the eyes and ears. But how do you expect the brain to integrate and process these bits of information well when it didn’t have enough rest?
Hence, it is best to forego any plans of driving for the day if you didn’t get a good night’s sleep. If that activity is something you cannot forego, it’s better to have someone drive you to your destination. If you have a very important meeting the following day, then you should really go to bed a lot earlier than usual.
Sometimes having a good night’s sleep is not enough. The traffic situation in the city can turn from smooth to gnarly in a split second. You may find yourself stuck in a situation where you’ll be cursing at the traffic. Tempers boil over whenever the traffic grinds to a standstill. And this is understandable, especially if you’re on the road at a time when the sun is at its peak brightness.
If you are already familiar with the traffic situation in your area, then by all means, avoid leaving the house during the rush hour. You will have to drive out a lot earlier. If the roads start clogging up at 7 in the morning, then maybe you should already be on the road by 6 AM. It is too early, we know but, at least, you won’t be under time pressure. Plus you may have spare time to drop for a morning bagel and coffee.
Listen to “Lighter” Music
Studies show that the more “intense” the music that you’re listening to, the more powerful your heartbeat is. It is not surprising, therefore, that many of those who get involved in road rage incidents have their radios or music players tuned in full bass. There’s this idea that neuroscientists are forwarding, saying that the human brain is attuned to the beat of life. This is the heartbeat.
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When you listen to chest-thumping, bass-kicking music, you are stimulating your heart to pump faster and stronger. The brain recognizes this and sends out a flood of chemicals that can make you feel so alive. Unfortunately, these also make you more vulnerable to short tempers and aggression. So, turn down the bass and listen to some good ol’ instrumental, classic, or love songs. Better yet, why not listen to something funny on the FM band?
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Deep-breathe, Count 1 to 10
There will always be instances when you will feel like losing your temper. You can feel it in your hands as they tighten on the steering wheel. Your senses become more heightened. You know you’re about to explode. Hold that thought.
Count 1 to 5 while inhaling through your nose. It’s best to do it real slow until you can feel your lungs filling with air. Now hold it for a couple of seconds. Purse your lip as if you’re going to whistle. Exhale counting 6 to 10. Doing this will send oxygen to your brain, allowing you to think a lot better about what happened. This also gives you enough time to compose yourself and avoid going into an outburst.
Sometimes, it makes perfect sense to pull over when you feel like boiling over. This gives you time to reflect on what just happened. When you pull over to the side of the road, you’re giving yourself enough time to catch a deep breath, look around you, and think about something more pleasant. The key here is to flood your brain with more positive thoughts. These positive thoughts will override the negative emotions that you may have about the incident.
Make sure to pull over in a safe manner, though. You don’t want other motorists to think ill of you and cause them to go on a road rage as well. Signal your intention to pull over. Move from one lane to the next as soon as the vehicle behind you is giving you the go signal. This maneuver alone is often enough to put your anger in check.
Pretend You Have a Loved One in Your Car
Most of us drive to work alone in our car. There’s no one to tell us that we’re over the speed limit or that it’s okay to let go of the stupid motorist who cut in front of you. We are more vulnerable to road rage when we’re driving alone. And while it’s not possible to bring your loved one every time you drive, you can somehow make-believe that she or they are there with you.
This mindset allows motorists to think about the safety and welfare of their passengers – their loved ones. If they go into a rage, they also endanger the safety of their family members. Any motorist who loves his or her family don’t want this. So, it’s best to pretend that you have a precious family member riding along, even when you don’t.
Make Your Ride as Comfortable as Possible
Environmental factors can add to the heat of the moment. A malfunctioning air conditioning system can double the stress you’re having. Uncomfortable seats and musky odors can also cause the brain to work on these “sensations” in a way that is not normal.
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These can all translate to higher anxiety or stress levels. And you know what they say – the more stressed you feel, the quicker you are in reaching your boiling point. As such, it pays to make sure your ride is as comfortable as possible. Get your AC fixed or your seat reupholstered. Have window tinting installed, any way to keep you from the heat and light of the sun. Put on a relaxing car air freshener to help you alleviate stress on the road.
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Think of the Possible Consequences If You Lose Control
Pulling over to the side of the road gives you time to think of the possible consequences if you lose your temper. Think about the “what ifs”. What if you pursued the other motorist and he had a gun? What if you let out your anger and you figured in a traffic collision? What if you have your baby and wife as passengers? What will happen to them? If you hit the other car, will you not end up in jail? What if an innocent bystander gets hit, too?
There is a multitude of possible consequences whenever we let our rage take the best of us. Deep breathing, counting 1 to 10, and pulling over allows us to think of these possible consequences.
Pretend that You’re in a Restaurant
In case you haven’t noticed, people are more understanding and more “forgiving” when in restaurants or some other venues. When someone cuts in the line, they will often shrug it off as a simple lack of courtesy. Very seldom will you see people confronting the individual who cuts in line. Why? Well, there are so many people that can see the ensuing commotion should they confront the offending party.
Inside the car, you’re alone. There is no one who can see your actions. This can embolden other drivers, making them believe that they can curse the other motorist any way they like. Don’t. Instead, try thinking of yourself being in a restaurant full of people with their eyes glued to your next move. Will you give in?
Realize that Other People are Plain Stupid
It’s a bit more challenging not to stoop down to the level of stupid drivers. The point is that you are a more sensible driver than the one who cut your path or almost sideswiped you. If you get back at them, you’re also lowering your standards of a good motorist.
Letting the culprit go may not sit well at first. But in the end, you will feel a lot better about yourself and how well you managed your rage. Some people are plain stupid that they don’t have a care for the rest of the world. You’re better than them.
Lives can change whenever there is road rage on city streets and highways. Dealing with road rage in a more constructive manner can help you avoid becoming another road rage statistic.