Consider the differences in these two scenarios:
You’re in a restaurant. Someone budges in front of you. What do you do? Mutter under your breath? Or say, “excuse me, we were here first?” Possibly nothing?
Now, you’re in traffic. Someone cuts you off. What’s your reaction to that? Screaming, yelling, obscene gestures?
Statistics show people tend to be much more aggressive inside a car as opposed to when they’re face- to-face with rude people. Most likely, this is because people feel safer and more insulated inside a car rather than standing next to an actual person. Whatever the reason for road rage, there’s no doubt it can be a serious problem. According to a survey by AAA, nearly 9 in 10 people believe aggressive drivers are either a “somewhat” or “very serious” threat to their safety. Also, many people who took part in the survey admit to engaging in aggressive behavior.
In a more startling survey, the AAA Foundation looked at more than 10,000 incidents of road rage in seven years. In those incidents, AAA found 218 murders and 12,610 injuries. What were some of the reasons drivers gave for the violence? Tailgating, being cut off and not being allowed to pass. Simply put, the best way to avoid aggressive driving is don’t take part in it. Mostly all it takes is commonsense, preparation and making the effort to remain calm.
1) Be prepared
Get enough sleep. Driving tired can cause a whole host of problems, from edginess to frustration to drowsiness to sleep driving. If you’re on a long drive, take a break every three hours or so. Also, give yourself plenty of time, leave early if you need to. Nothing causes more frustration than being late to an appointment. Not only that, try to map out your way so you can avoid traffic, avoid getting lost and avoid panic. Keep your car ready. Driving low on gas, with bad tires, bad windshield washers and similar issues can lead to stressful situations on the road.
2) The restaurant rule
AAA calls it “The Restaurant Rule.” In other words, while driving, use the same courtesies you would if you were at a restaurant. Don’t use obscene gestures, don’t cut people off, don’t tailgate, don’t yell or honk your horn. In other words, don’t be part of the problem. About the only thing that comes from this behavior is escalating a bad situation.
According to the American Psychology Association, those who are prone to anger are nearly three times more likely to have a heart attack. Hostile individuals are also at a high risk of stroke, depression and obesity. So chill out. The truth is, a trip to the store is not a competition. Getting cut off in traffic or being the target of a rude gesture is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Just remember that. Consider the other driver. Maybe that guy who just cut you off simply didn’t realize it, or they’re having a really bad day. Take a deep breath and let it go. The key is don’t take it personally. More than likely, that person tailgating you or driving slowly isn’t doing it to enjoy your frustration.
4) Take a look in the mirror
If you find yourself consistently having your own issues with aggressive driving, take a good look at your own behavior. Ask yourself: Do you regularly drive over the speed limit? Honk your horn at others? Tailgate? If you are part of the problem, maybe it’s time you became part of the solution. These are just a few ways to avoid road rage and aggressive driving. A calm, prepared disposition while driving can help you avoid everything from a bad situation on the road to over-stressing on a regular basis.
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