Let’s face it; we’re not happy all the time. Neither are the people we come across in our daily activities. Sometimes the grumpy, annoyed or angry feelings come with us where ever we go, including when we get into the vehicle. If you take these negative feelings with you while driving, this can often lead to road raging. So let’s take a look at both angles of road raging – the giver and the receiver.
Let’s first address you, the road rage giver. Why do it? In most cases, road ragers are just having a bad moment, bad day or bad few days. The stress seems to build up and when the smallest thing that doesn’t go in their favour happens, then wham! They take most actions from other road users very personal. They often feel those people did those actions to them directly. Well, that’s not really the case. The main difference between an angry driver and a road rager is follow-through. The angry driver may say things aloud in the vehicle to themselves or their passengers. The road rager will act upon their rage.
When I was a judge on Canada’s Worst Driver during their first season, we had a participant who felt other drivers were doing things just to annoy him personally. This tended to get him so angry he often retaliated to these drivers by cutting them off or by hitting the brakes suddenly causing the driver behind to do the same, almost crashing into them. That’s often what road raging really is – retaliation to someone else’s actions. During that season of the show, we used the other participants as examples to him that people make mistakes while driving; quite often not intentionally toward someone else. After we did that he seemed to have a better understanding that people do make mistakes while driving and became less of a road rager. He tried not to take other driver’s mistakes personally.
So what can you do to avoid being the road rage giver? If you’ve had a bad day, put on your favourite music in your vehicle before driving away, close your eyes for a few minutes and take deep breaths. This will slow down your heart rate and put you in a relaxed mood before you head off on your commute. If what’s causing your stress is at home, try to leave it there when you get into your vehicle. The same can be said if the stress you’re feeling is with your job. Leaving your “work problems” at work allows you to stay calm while behind the wheel. Always take a few moments before driving if you’re feeling annoyed, angry or grumpy to relax and clear your mind of those issues. And never take the actions of other drivers personally.
Now, what can you do if someone is the road rager to you? The first thing is never retaliate back to them. Drivers have been seriously injured or even killed through the act of road raging. You’re no better than they are if you act like them. Also, avoid making eye contact with them. That sometimes seems to fuel their rage even more. Another possible solution is to turn off the road you’re currently driving on to get rid of them. If they follow you, keep making smooth turns until they decide it isn’t worth pursuing. If they still persist with the raging, drive to the closest police station or fire station. They’ll tend to back off after they see where you’re going.
Remember driving is a journey, not a race. Take the time to relax and focus on this journey. Personal problems will come and go, for you and other road users. Take a moment and think of the consequences of your actions before you do those actions. You’ll be safer because of it.