If you’ve ever been sitting behind the steering wheel, chances are you’ve experienced aggressive driving in one form or another. In fact, according to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year.
Because the majority of accidents are caused by human error, it’s worthwhile to discuss road rage and the ways you can avoid it in the first place. In hopes of getting more people home safely (and sanely), we’ve come up with these tips for curbing road rage:
1. Don’t React
If you’re the one taking the brunt of someone else’s road rage, don’t retaliate! It takes two participants to create a roadside feud, so someone has to choose to defuse the situation. You and everyone driving around you are better off if you disengage. Depending on the scenario, remember to follow these tips:
- Stay calm: It can be nerve wracking seeing another driver act aggressively towards you, but do your best to keep your cool
- Keep driving: If you feel like you’re being followed, stay in busy areas and don’t go home or pull over
- Don’t respond: Don’t respond to taunting or reply if being yelled at
- Look forward: Avoid eye contact and keep your window rolled up
2. Take up Audio Books
Adding a bit of a diversion or amusement on the road could go a long way in keeping you in a better mood. Many times road rage comes from being fixated on traffic and having no control over what’s happening around you. You can give yourself something else to think about with audio books, or even music. We warn that listening to talk radio, on the other hand, can create a new source of rage!
Audiobooks are great neutral territory because unlike talk radio, they’re free from annoying ads, or potentially frustrating topics. If there’s something you’re trying to learn, listening to an audiobook about it will make sitting in traffic feel less like a waste of time. And who knows, you may arrive at your destination a bit smarter than when you left.
3. Change your Schedule
The “angriest” times to be on the road are in the afternoon at 6pm and 5pm, so simply adjusting your schedule up can completely change the atmosphere during your commute. Avoiding rush hour whenever possible is key, so make sure to take care of your errands in the morning, or mid-afternoon. Lunch time can also produce heavy traffic.
If your work schedule isn’t flexible, you can try finding something enjoyable to do after work before making the commute home, such as the gym, bookstore, or socializing after work. Doing something that helps with end of the day stress will put you in a much better state of mind before making your commute home.
4. Use Apps to Avoid Traffic Jams
Some of the most popular apps are the ones we use on the road, and for good reason. Many apps, like Waze, make it possible to combat the many annoyances we encounter while driving.
For instance, you can avoid getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic by using an app that notifies you of accidents, traffic jams, and gives you alternative routes as you’re driving. You’ll want to make sure that you already have a decent idea of how to use a GPS before giving it a go in the midst of traffic.
Once you’re confident using the app and have it in a secure location (GPS mounts are useful for this) you can start benefiting from all the alerts such as sharp turns, police entrapments, accidents, traffic jams, and more. Remember, the best way of curbing road rage is to avoid it in the first place!
5. Keep Your Vehicle well Maintained
After all the minor stresses build up throughout the day, the last place you want stress is during your drive home. By keeping your car well maintained, you’ll be eliminating potential stressors or driving hazards. These include things such as a super messy interior, tangled chargers, or a broken radio or AC. You’ll be a safer, more focused driver if you’re not having to worry about broken windshield wipers or a dead taillight.
The last thing you need when dealing with road rage is more aggravation by what’s happening with your car. If your vehicle is comfortable and enjoyable to be in, you’ll have a lot more patience while driving.
We hope we’ve given you some ideas on how to cope with one of the most common, and potentially deadly, issues that drivers face today. Remember, deep breaths and drive safe!