How to Deal with Road Rage

Amber Murphy

Driving through today’s city streets, busy intersections, and ultra-fast highways require patience. It’s easy to lose your temper and experience road rage when another driver does something that could endanger the lives of other road users. The question now is how to deal with it? How can you control that seething temper when another motorist is getting on your nerves? How do you recognize the symptoms of road rage and resolve them quickly? Below are ten tips for you on how to deal with road rage so you can drive safely.

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is when you lose your temper while driving. Almost everyone has experienced some form of road rage while driving. While most people can bounce back from their anger quickly, it can prove deadly in some situations.

How to Deal With Road Rage

1. Have a good night’s sleep

One of the most common reasons that tempers soar on the road is poor quality or lack of sleep. Your mind needs to be at its best whenever you are on the road. It must integrate the visual and auditory signals that come 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 get enough rest, especially when you consider all the benefits of sleep? Therefore, it’s better to give up any driving plan during the day if you didn’t sleep well at night.

If that activity you need to do is something you can’t skip, it’s best to have someone drive you to your destination. If you have an important meeting the next day, you should go to bed much earlier than usual.

When we don’t sleep well, we’ll likely experience more impatience caused by the limbic system. When you don’t sleep well, the limbic system forces you to be in fight or flight when you’re sleep-deprived so that you can best protect yourself. People’s emotions are usually not well managed when in a state of fight or flight, making road rage more common when you’re feeling sleepy.

sleep to prevent road rage

2. Exit before

Sometimes a good night’s sleep isn’t enough. The traffic situation in the city can go from smooth to jam-packed in only a short time. You may find yourself caught in a situation where you’re cursing the traffic. Most people don’t enjoy being stuck in traffic when they have somewhere they need to be or if they’re exhausted from a long day at work.

Tempers flare every time traffic stalls. When you’re driving first thing in the morning or after work, it tends to be peak times when others are on the road. If you’re already familiar with the traffic situation in your area, avoid leaving your home during rush hour. You’ll have to go much earlier to help you avoid road rage. The earlier you leave for work and from work, the less likely you’ll get stuck in traffic, allowing you to drive calmly and minimize the risk of road rage.

If the roads start to get busy at 7 a.m., maybe you should be on the road by 6 a.m. It may seem too early, but at least you won’t be the kind of time pressure that causes road rage. Also, you may have free time to do other things.

3. Listen to softer music

Studies show that the more intense the music you’re listening to, your heartbeat will beat stronger. So, it’s not surprising that many of those involved in road rage incidents have their radios or music players tuned to the max.

When you listen to music that beats your chest and hits the bass, you stimulate your heart to pump faster and louder. 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 aggression and temper. So, turn down the bass and listen to some good instrumental, classical, or love songs. Better yet, why not listen to something fun or mellow so you can drive calmly?

The world’s most relaxing song is Weightless by Marconi Union. Give that song a try the next time you go for a drive. You’ll likely notice that your emotions won’t be in high gear, allowing you to drive peacefully to your next destination. You can also listen to positive songs to help keep you upbeat.

4. Take a deep breath to calm road rage

There will always be times when you feel like losing your temper. You can feel it in your hands as they squeeze the steering wheel. Your heart starts to race. Your senses become more intense. You know you are about to explode when your thoughts go into overdrive. But before you do, pause.

Count from 1 to 5 as you breathe in through your nose. It is best to do it very slowly until you can feel your lungs fill with air. Now hold it for a couple of seconds. Purse your lips as if to whistle. Exhale for a count of 6 to 10. Your exhale should be longer than your inhale to maximize the benefits of breathing deeply.

Doing this will send oxygen to your brain, allowing you to think much more clearly about what happened. Deep breathing also gives you enough time to calm the mind to avoid an outburst. It’s an effective way of calming the mind and body quickly when you experience a trigger while driving.

5. Pullover calmly to avoid road rage

Sometimes it makes perfect sense to stop when you feel the onset of road rage coming on. Pulling over gives you time to reflect on what just happened. When you pull up to the side of the road, you’re giving yourself plenty of time to take a deep breath, look around, and think of something more pleasant.

The key here is to flood your brain with more happy thoughts. These positive thoughts will override any negative emotions you may have about the incident. What you don’t want to do is catastrophize what just happened. So avoid ruminating on your frustrations. You shouldn’t start driving again until your mind is calm so you can be a safe driver for yourself and those sharing the road with you.

Always remember that the frustrations on the road are only temporary and that you have the power to maintain control of your emotions. However, be sure to stop safely. You don’t want other motorists to become frustrated with your driving, making them develop road rage too.

Signal your intention to stop. Move from one lane to another as soon as the vehicle behind you gives you the go-ahead signal. This maneuver alone is usually enough to control your anger.

pull over road rage

6. 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 driver who got in front of us. No one’s there to tell you that your life and safety are more important than proving someone wrong.

We’re more vulnerable to road rage when driving alone. And although it’s not possible to bring your loved ones with you every time you go for a drive, you can somehow pretend that they’re there with you. Or at least remember that they need you to come home alive.

This growth mindset allows motorists to think about the safety and well-being of their passengers, their loved ones. When a driver experiences road rage, they endanger the safety of those in their car and possibly others on the road too.

Any motorist who loves his family doesn’t want to lose them. Therefore, it’s better to pretend that you have a precious family member accompanying you, even when you don’t. The safety of those on the road is more important than any overwhelming emotions you feel.

7. Make your trip as comfortable as possible

Environmental factors can contribute to the heat of the moment. A malfunctioning air conditioning system can double the stress you have. Uncomfortable seats and musky smells can also cause the brain to work with these “sensations” in ways that aren’t normal.
All of this can translate into higher levels of anxiety or stress. And you know what they say: the more stressed you feel, the faster you’ll reach your boiling point. As such, it’s worth making sure that your trip is as comfortable as possible.

Fix your air conditioner or reupholster your seat. Have window tint installed in any way that protects it from heat and sunlight. Put on a lavender-scented car air freshener to help relieve stress on the road. By creating a relaxing environment in your car, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the trip to your destination.

8. Think about the possible consequences if you lose control

Parking on the side of the road gives you time to think about the potential effects if you lose your temper. Think about the “what ifs.” What if you chased the other motorist and he or she had a gun? What if you let your anger out and imagine yourself in a traffic collision? Ultimately, when you’re sharing the road with others, you’re always unsure of the emotional state they’re in. Why escalate your road rage by getting into an argument with someone that could prove dangerous? A petty dispute when two people are raging mad doesn’t get resolved quickly. It’s also risky and a waste of time.

What if you have your baby and your partner as passengers? What will happen to them? If you crash into the other car and someone is seriously injured, could you end up in jail? What if an innocent bystander gets hurt too?

There’s a multitude of possible consequences when we let our anger take over. Take a deep breath. You can count from 1 to 10 while doing deep breathing exercises. Stopping allows us time to think about these potential consequences. Don’t make a hasty decision in the heat of the moment.

9. Pretend you’re in a public place like a restaurant

People are more understanding and more forgiving when in restaurants or any other public space, if you haven’t noticed. When someone cuts you off in line, you’ll likely gently tell them or ignore it as a simple case of courtesy. You will rarely see people confront the individual standing in line or get up in arms about something like that. Why? Well, there are usually so many bystanders around that prevent you from making a scene.

Inside the car, you’re alone. No one can see your actions. This lack of bystanders can embolden other drivers into believing that they can curse the other driver however they want. So, don’t waste your time exploding in a fit of road rage. Instead, try thinking of yourself in a crowded restaurant with your eyes focused on what you need to do. Sometimes you need to let things go.

10. Realize that people can sometimes be difficult

It’s a bit more challenging not to stoop to the level of difficult people. The point is, you’re a wiser driver than the one who got in your way or nearly dodged it. By taking revenge on them, you’re also lowering your standards as a good driver. Try to be the bigger person when someone is experiencing road rage.

Letting go of the culprit may not suit you at first. But in the end, you will feel much better about yourself and how well you handled your anger. You also might’ve prevented some serious harm to yourself and your family. Some people lack the emotional skills you do or don’t care about how their behavior affects others. Aim to look at the bigger picture for the safety of yourself and everyone else on the road.

Conclusion

Lives can change every time there’s a range of unmanaged emotions on the streets and highways of the city. Dealing with road rage more constructively can help you avoid becoming another road rage statistic. If you find yourself in an altercation with another driver, simmer down and remove yourself from the situation. There’s no point in jeopardizing your safety when it comes to arguing with a stranger.

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