6 Tips to Fight Road Rage

See also: Avoiding and Managing Stress

Road rage is extremely common on US roads: 50% of people say their partners get road rage while driving according to a recent survey by ParkOn.

With over 214 million registered drivers in the US, that means that more than 100 million angry people could be commuting to and from work every day!

Road rage isn’t harmless anger and frustration – it’s one of the leading contributors to road traffic fatalities in the US. Over the last seven years alone, there have been more than 218 murders and 12 610 injuries attributed to road rage. According to police reports, 37% of all road incidents involve firearms.

As well as putting drivers at great risk on the roads, road rage also increases your chances of a stroke or heart attack. In 2011, 50% of Americans suffered from health issues related to stress, a figure which is increasing year on year.

So what can you do if you suffer from road rage?

Imagine a driver that annoys you is someone dear to you

This tip may seem strange at first, but it’s one that seems to be suggested time and time again when talking to other drivers – and it works!

The premise is simple: next time a driver cuts you off or does anything that annoys you, imagine that driver is someone you care deeply about. Would you scream and curse like that at a loved one? Probably not.

Give yourself more time to get to your destination

For many drivers, road rage is not something that happens all the time, but rather during specific journeys such as the commute to work.

In a lot of cases, the anger comes from being frustrated at how long it takes to get to where you want to go, especially if you’re late. If you find that this is the case, try planning more time for your journey. This might sound a little patronising, but you’ll be surprised how much calmer an extra ten or twenty minutes can make.

To do this effectively, wake up slightly earlier in the morning. This way, you’ll have the same amount of time to get everything done before you leave – meaning you won’t have to rush. It might seem difficult at first, but you’ll soon get into the rhythm and feel the benefits once your mornings are much less stressful.

See our page on Time Management for more.

When dealing with tailgating drivers, turn on your hazard lights instead of braking

This technique is great for keeping yourself out of harm’s way when trying to deal with those dangerous drivers who like to get really close behind you. Instead of braking, and possibly causing a crash, turning on your hazard lights will make the driver behind you brake and slow down instead.

Studies have shown that over half of drivers react angrily towards tailgating and other dangerous driving, leading to a large number of violent or aggressive incidents. If everyone used less confrontational methods such as this, accidents would reduce significantly.

Take an alternate route

When we travel to and from places near home, people tend to take the same familiar routes. However, there may be better options that can help reduce road rage. Specifically, try to find routes that don’t include unprotected left turns, two lanes merging into one, and high-speed traffic as these are all common factors in road rage.

If you’re travelling to somewhere you haven’t been before, try doing some research beforehand. Online services such as Google Maps can be used to plan routes, and there are a number of driving forums that will help you avoid troublesome road sections.

Taking alternate routes can also be more fun than it initially seems, especially when you decide to take the scenic route. Try to think of your journey as an adventure and not an obligation.

Get some sleep

Not getting enough sleep can have a profoundly negative impact on your well-being, leading you to be more stressed and angry – a perfect storm for road rage.

Improving sleep involves two things: getting the right amount of sleep and getting the right kind of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours sleep for an adult. If you wake up at 6am, this means a bed time of 9 – 11pm (at the latest). Most people do not get that much sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, try reducing the number of inactive activities in the evening, such as watching TV or using a computer. If you want to keep busy, try being physically active as this will help regulate your sleep cycle. It will also help reduce stress.

To get a better kind of sleep, do not use a computer, watch TV, or use your phone for an hour before going to bed. If you want to do something before bed, try reading a book rather than using anything with a screen as this will help you to get a much better night’s sleep. Additionally, remove any sources of light that you have in your room during the night – sleeping with a lamp on, or even a TV, will adversely affect the quality of your sleep. Instead, its recommended that you sleep in total darkness.

See our page: The Importance of Sleep for more information.

Eat a healthier diet

Your overall health plays a significant role in managing stress levels, so eating a healthier diet will help reduce your road rage.

If you struggle with your food intake, try downloading one of the many fitness apps available that allow you to keep a food diary. Most of these apps are designed for weight loss, however, they also allow you to simply keep a record of what you eat. Doing this will help you understand what it is you are putting into your body, and whether this is having a negative impact on your health.

If you find that you are consuming too much of the wrong things, the apps will help you cut down in small increments, making healthy eating much easier.

Our pages on Diet and Nutrition can help you here.

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In summary

Road Rage is difficult to deal with, but looking at other areas of your life and being a lot less confrontational can really make the difference.

  • Remember to visualise other drivers as real people you care deeply about, and try to avoid retaliation whenever possible.

  • Look at your health and fitness: are you doing enough to keep in good shape?

  • Lastly, a good night’s sleep can make all the difference – you’ll feel much more refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.

About the Author

India Benjamin is a Psychology graduate who has moved in to the world of marketing. She uses her Psych skills to study and understand humans, and applies this knowledge to marketing campaigns.