Behind the Wheel: Reducing Road Rage

Dr. Angela Seabright
Kersten Kruse

| 3 min read

Car driving down a dark road
Would you be surprised to learn that aggressive driving plays a part in 66 percent of traffic deaths?
Road rage is more common than we think, and is easily managed with the right skills. The first step in dealing with aggression on the road is recognizing the signs.
Common signs of road rage are:
• Making gestures to strangers that signal anger or disapproval
• Driving dangerously close to the back of another person’s car
• Fighting over a parking space with another driver
• Not allowing another car to pass
• Using the car horn frequently
• Yelling at or belittling other drivers
People who demonstrate these behaviors may suffer from road rage – a type of anger experienced while operating a vehicle while in the vicinity of other drivers. If you have trouble identifying the source, here are some common reasons why drivers experience road rage and what you can do to combat them.
  • Lack of Sleep A factor that may play a part in road rage involves something that happens before we start our day – sleep. The National Sleep Foundation claims that a national epidemic of sleepiness can subject us to feelings of annoyance, resentment and anger. By getting more sleep at night, you can reduce your irritability and avoid some feelings associated with road rage.
  • Driving to Reduce Anger Recognize that your car is not a therapist. The next time you are angry, avoid driving to cool down. Save this energy for weekend travel or your commute to work in the morning. Your vehicle is a mode of transportation, and using it as an outlet for negative emotion can put those around you at risk. Instead of driving, try taking a walk or riding your bike to reduce stress and promote physical well-being.
  • Making it Personal Avoiding eye contact with aggressive drivers is essential to reducing your risk of an accident. People are often not the target of aggressive driving. Drivers of all backgrounds make mistakes on the road, forget to look for other cars or feel impatient. By refusing to take it personally or hold these faults against another driver, you are eliminating a potentially dangerous encounter with another driver.
  • Angry Music Uplifting music can reduce feelings of anger or irritation. By turning down the bass and playing soft jazz or classical tunes, you can sit back and relax while focusing on the road. Hostility is a mindset and can be changed with small adjustments to your environment. Consider this the next time you play your favorite rock band’s album on your commute to work.
  • Not Thinking of Others It can be beneficial to evaluate the experience of those around you. Ask yourself, “did I do anything that could upset another driver?” By doing this, you can adjust your driving to create a less stressful experience for everyone involved. Being mindful of others can benefit more than just your driving habits, it can also have a positive impact on your friendships and relationships.
  • Not Allowing for Delays If you find that you are frequently passing other cars on the way to work, it might be time to adjust your morning routine. While making sure that you get enough sleep, contemplate leaving earlier than usual. By reducing your fear of being late, you can safely follow speed limits and experience less frustration over time during your commute. You can minimize your morning routine by planning your outfits, meal-prepping, showering the night before and setting any work-related items near your path of exit.
Have you experienced road rage? How do you deal with your feelings on the highway? Share with us in the comments.
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Photo credit: Wall Boat

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