Driving is a part of daily life for most adults, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. In the US, three million people are injured in car accidents each year, with around six million accidents in total. Of those accidents, a frightening 33% are caused by road rage. Road rage describes any behavior on the road that’s hostile or aggressive, and it’s all too common.
Whether it’s triggered by fatigue or annoyance, road rage can be costly to everyone involved. If you’re not sure how to deal with road rage, the following tips can help.
To keep your cool…
If possible, give yourself extra time to account for possible on-the-road stressors, like traffic and poor weather conditions.
Don’t worry about things beyond your control
Leaving early isn’t always an option. If you’re running late, stressing won’t help you get there faster. Let go of the pressure to get back on schedule and prioritize getting to your next stop safely.
Banish road rage with your favorite playlists and podcasts.
Keep yourself alert and entertained by playing your favorite jams. Sing along if you feel like it. If you feel your temper rising after someone cuts you off and makes you miss your exit, just turn the volume up and keep on driving.
Catch up on phone calls
If you have Bluetooth, chatting with your best buddies can alleviate stress and help you keep things in perspective.
Ease off the horn
Car horns are there to get the attention of other drivers, not to express annoyance. As tempting as it is, don’t honk unless you really need to. It’s unlikely to make you feel better, it’s definitely not going to speed up traffic, and it’s highly likely to aggravate other drivers. Lay off the horn, and try one of the other options above to stay calm.
Drive like your favorite person is in the car
If your partner, child, or best friend was sitting beside you, would you drive aggressively? Hopefully, the answer is no. When you’re on a long solo drive, imagine that someone else is in the car to help keep road rage at bay.
If you’re losing your cool, take a break.
Even if it means being late, do what you need to do to continue driving safely. Pull into a rest stop, have a snack, stretch your legs, and get back on the road when you’ve had a chance to cool off.
To protect yourself from angry drivers…
If someone’s behaving aggressively, don’t respond. Returning their obscene gesture, flashing lights, or yelling are all examples that lead to escalation, not conflict resolution. Do your best to put distance between yourself and the other driver to put the encounter behind you.
Get out of the way
Again, if a situation feels unsafe, remove yourself from it. If someone is tailgating you or honking, change lanes whenever it’s safe to do so to allow them to pass. Let karma take care of the rest.
Don’t take road rage personally
Someone else’s anger is not a reflection of your driving skills. If someone flips out at you in traffic, don’t let it ruin your day.
Don’t drive home
Be aware of your surroundings. If an aggressive driver won’t let it go and begins to follow you, don’t drive home. Drive directly to the nearest police station to protect yourself and your passengers.
Empathy is one of the best ways to avoid road rage.
At the end of the day, we never know what the other drivers on the road are going through. We’ve all had rough days, so give others the benefit of the doubt. Instead of getting angry at a crazy driver, save your energy. It doesn’t help, anyway. Focus on getting yourself and your passengers to your destination safely. What else could matter more?