How To Prevent Road Rage

Road rage is becoming a commonplace occurrence on our streets and highways. Drivers are often stressed, short-tempered, impatient, and inconsiderate. Everyone can get a little irritated behind the wheel once in a while, but allowing your temper to get the better of you is both foolish and dangerous. Here are a few tips to help you to prevent road rage:

  1. Get your rest. Physical exhaustion contributes to mental fatigue and shortened tempers. Try not to drive when you are too tired to do so safely.
  2. Keep your cool. Do not engage in emotionally charged conversations or arguments with your passengers. Your car is not a safe place to have difficult disagreements.
  3. Leave your problems outside. If you just had a heated argument at work or at home, try to calm down before getting behind the wheel. Aggressive driving increases your chances of getting into an accident, inflaming other drivers, and being unnecessarily impatient. If you add that up, it puts you at high risk to become engaged in a road rage incident.
  4. Expect the unexpected. By engaging in defensive driving techniques, you will lessen the times that someone "surprises" or irritates you with her erratic driving.
  5. Keep your distance. If you notice an irresponsible driver, give him some extra space--you do not want to put yourself or your passengers in danger by driving near an inattentive driver. If you suspect that the driver may be intoxicated, note the make of the car and the license plate number and contact the police.
  6. Mellow out. Listen to pleasurable music in your car or maybe some motivational tapes. Whatever puts you in a calm and relaxed mood is beneficial. Music is normally preferable to talk radio--topics on talk radio are frequently controversial and designed to get listeners emotionally involved. That's fine, but not in the car.
  7. Give yourself a gentle reminder. Road rage can be deadly--it is not unheard of for angry drivers to get so out of control that the incident ends tragically. Velcro a small photo of your loved ones to your dashboard. When you are feeling stressed on the road and are tempted to lash out at another driver, look at the picture to remind yourself about what is at stake.
  8. Allow enough time. Running late makes you feel stressed even before you walk out the door. Try to allow yourself sufficient time to reach your destination.
  9. Take regular breaks. When driving long distances, be sure to pull over frequently to relax, stretch your legs, and get a bite to eat. Even a short stop can make a big difference.

  10. Keep your feelings in check, for the health of it. People prone to angry outbursts are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than their calmer counterparts. Additionally, angry people have higher incidences of stroke, more frequent bouts of depression, and are more likely to become obese. Finding healthy ways to reduce stress is good for you on the road as well as in your everyday life.
  11. Take a deep breath. When you feel yourself getting angry or upset, take a deep breath and count to ten (or twenty, if that's what it takes!).
  12. Drive safely. Avoid tailgating and obey the speed limit. Not only will you reduce your chances of getting into a potentially serious accident, but you will be far less likely to incite the anger of other drivers.
  13. Mind your manners. Everyone makes mistakes, so try to be understanding when another driver makes a mistake near you. If someone cuts in front of you too closely, drives too slow, or turns without a proper signal, try to keep in mind that at some point, most of us have made a mistake on the road. You probably have, too. Screaming, swearing, shaking your fist, making obscene hand gestures, or engaging in a retaliatory display of unsafe driving will only make a bad situation worse. Behave as if your mother is in the passenger seat--be on your best behavior.
  14. Consult with your doctor. A recent study concludes that frequently, road rage may be symptomatic of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), which may affect up to 16 million Americans. People suffering from IED experience an inadequate production or functioning of serotonin, a mood-regulating brain chemical, and often react with disproportionately angry outbursts, throwing objects, breaking things, and sometimes even abusing family members. If you feel that you exhibit some of these symptoms, consult your physician, since IED is treatable.


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