What Is Road Rage and How to Avoid it

January 22, 2018Car Driving Tips
Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

Did you know that road rage is legally classified as a criminal charge? Statistics show that nowadays, Americans are more nervous than before, and that can be seen in the growth of fatal car accidents. Almost 90% of folks behind the wheel have experienced some type of anger.

If you feel irritated by the other participants in the traffic, and you can’t control the outburst of your emotions, consider some anger management courses. Also, use calming techniques to ground yourself. Sometimes you can’t avoid getting angry, but there are many things you can do even before setting foot in a car. Having enough sleep and having a morning routine are just some ways to avoid being grumpy while in a vehicle. Be mindful of others, don’t engage in a verbal or physical confrontation, and you will avoid the trouble.

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What Is Road Rage and How It Affects Your Car Driving Abilities

This problematic behavior is in psychology defined as aggressive driving that occurs from conflicts with other participants in traffic. Also, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety describes it as “any unsafe driving maneuver performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.” When people lose their temper and start expressing their thoughts in an angry, almost violent manner, they are probably experiencing road rage.

Being behind the wheel while you are emotional can be harmful not only for you but also for others. Emotions can be a big distraction, and they can hinder your ability to maneuver the vehicle. That’s why admitting that you have a problem, enrolling in some courses, and keeping calm are essential parts in avoiding accidents.

Know What Causes Road Rage

According to the Watson Health poll, approximately 84% of people surveyed stated that Americans are angrier today than they were a generation ago. Having all those negative emotions bottled up might cause outbursts in the most unlikely situations, such as being on the roadway. However, suppressed emotions are not the only reason somebody gets mad, other causes are:

  • Traffic jam or gridlock
  • Detours and construction delays
  • Loud and too energetic music
  • Constant honking
  • Slow cars or erratic lane change
  • Tailgating

You can experience two types of rage – habitual and situational. Habitual is learned behavior, while situational is based on the situation.

Accept That You Have a Problem

You would think that people can easily tell when they get angry behind the wheel, but some need a little push when it comes to acknowledging the problem. Honesty is the best policy. According to data from the survey conducted by the insurance company The Zebra, 86% admitted driving aggressively at least once in a year. If you think you might be one of them, ask yourself:

  • Do you often cross the speed limit or try to beat the red lights because you are late or in a hurry?
  • Do you warn cars in front of you that they are moving slowly by flashing the tailgate or headlights?
  • How often do you honk the horn?
  • Do you communicate furiously with others or use obscene gestures?

If you affirmatively answer any of these, you may be prone to frenzy while behind the wheel. It is not the end of the world. You just have to accept the problem on your hands and look for a way to stay calm during the drive.

Aggressive Man, the driver of the car is outraged at the wheel during the trip
Honesty is the best policy, so admit that you have a problem and ask for help.

What Is the Root of Aggressive Driving

Anger can be powerful, quick, and can make us do or say things we wouldn’t usually. It can also be triggered by a specific event that will more likely than not involve the other driver’s actions. Feelings you get while behind the wheel are dictated by more than the current situation. The response you give is rooted in factors like age, beliefs, mood, or gender. Millennials are the age group that experiences the anger most often, while baby boomers experience it the least. Zebra’s survey also shows that males are more often on the receiving end of the aggression.

There Is More Than One Form of Aggressiveness

People express emotions differently. Hot-tempered folks, unlike easy-going ones, tend to react quickly and instantly. The way they handle anger can be seen through their actions. That’s why you can spot more than one form of aggressiveness while on the street:

  • Shouting
  • Angrily honking
  • Making inappropriate gestures
  • Tailgating
  • Purpose cutting off another car on the street
  • Blocking other cars from switching lanes
  • Getting out of the car to verbally or physically attack another person
  • Bumping or ramming another four-wheeler on purpose
  • Forcing another car off the street

Statistics from The Zebra show that in the last nine years, the number of fatal car accidents related to road rage grew by 500%. Also, the usage of firearms has been increasing. If you want to avoid being a part of a statistic, enroll in an anger management course, or try calming techniques.

How to Act If Another Driver Is Angry

While on the street, be mindful of others because you are not the only participant in the traffic. You might not feel like yelling at everybody, but other folks just might. When you happen to encounter angry drivers, you should know how to react and avoid physical confrontations:

  • If possible, keep the safe distance, safely change lanes, slow down, or exit the highway.
  • Don’t engage in any kind of confrontation. Ignore all the attempts of another person to start a fight, and don’t make eye contact.
  • Don’t stop your vehicle because that can lead to dangerous physical contact.
  • Stay in your car, even if the other person is outside yelling.
  • Watch your back, and if you notice that the other driver is following you, keep the car doors locked and go to the nearest police station.

These hacks will help you avoid uncomfortable and dangerous situations that happen on the highways all across the US. Keep in mind that almost 7% of all drivers have, at one point, gotten out of the car and verbally attacked another American. Also, 6% have engaged in a physical altercation. News is filled with stories about rampage on the highways, and if you follow these steps, you won’t be one a part of them.

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Things That Just Intensify the Anger

There is always something that can make a bad day worse. When you are enraged, behind the wheel, and looking for a way to vent, every little thing can intensify the anger. Those can be situational things, like hitting the red light three times in a row or being cut off on the highway. Anger can also be intensified by your personality traits. Folks that are violent in other parts of their lives will more likely than not be violent and angry while behind the wheel as well.

angry folks on the street
News is filled with violent stories about angry folks on the street, don't be one of them.

How to Avoid Road Rage

Those experiencing driving stress or driving anxieties use calming techniques that make the car ride an enjoyable experience. Some of those can also be applied to folks experiencing anger while behind the wheel. However, if you are one of those experiencing strong and almost violent tendencies, start working on grounding yourself long before you put a key in the ignition.

Take Care of Your Mental Health While Still at Home

Even before you sit behind the wheel, there are more than a few things that can help you stay calm on the highway and avoid accidents. The safe and peaceful ride begins the night before. By having a good night’s sleep, you will avoid feeling drowsy, and you will be less prone to flare quickly. Also, when you establish some morning routines, you will have enough time to prepare without having to rush out of your home. Don’t skip breakfast because those that eat while in the car have almost 80% higher chances of getting into an accident. Also, consider anger management courses as a tool that will help you handle emotions.

Podcasts and Audiobooks Are Your Friends

When you get in the car, try to tune out all the annoying sounds like honking and other drivers yelling. Turn on the radio, listen to the news, or expand your knowledge of world classics by listening to audiobooks. Listening to the story will help you focus, and you won’t feel as angry as you usually would. Also, engrossing podcasts are an excellent way to keep your mind out of that dark and furious place it can go to. Music lovers can also enjoy some slow classical music. According to data on the Harvard Health website, slow and meditative music produces a very relaxing effect while faster tempos lead to arousal. That’s why you should listen to Chopin or Mozart while in the car and avoid headbanging to AC/DC or Metallica.

Nice Smells Have Calming Effects

Did you know that some smells can act like anti-anxiety medications? A study conducted in Japan proved that some scents can mimic the effect of medications like Valium and diazepam. That’s why some of the things you should keep in your car are essential oils, air fresheners, and lotions. Picking the right ones will create a calm and relaxing space:

  • The vanilla scent has a soothing effect, and it can promote relaxation, stress relief, and can have a sedative effect on your body. It can also reduce restlessness and hyperactivity.
  • Menthol has positive effects on reducing migraines and headache symptoms you can experience while being stuck in traffic.
  • Lavender is one of the best fragrances for relaxation, but it also helps with lowering stress levels and anxiety.
  • Peppermint and cinnamon are smells that can reduce frustration and promote alertness. They have almost the same effect as caffeine but without all the jitters.
  • Citrus smells such as orange, lemon, grapefruit, and limes are great for boosting alertness and inspiring positive emotions.

Some Reasons for Road Rage Can be Easily Alleviated

When you are behind the wheel and feel like everything is getting on your nerves, take a deep breath. Remember, you are not the only one with a car. You can easily avoid annoying other drivers:

  • Don’t honk if someone is moving slowly. Keep in mind that they might be new to the area and just lost.
  • If you are using hand gestures, use them wisely. Show support to others by waving to say hello, or show thumbs up to a person who lets you in when merging. Even those small gestures can make a big difference.
  • Don’t tailgate others, it is a dangerous behavior that can lead to some serious injuries. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Avoid stopping for confrontation with another driver. If you stop, you will create a situation that can escalate quickly into a violent showdown.
Depressed female driver
Take a deep breath and don't allow others to stress you.

Driving Can Be Fun

Having a car and being able to go from one place to another without depending on public transportation is convenient no matter where you live. If you need to make a quick stop at the market or visit your friends in another town, hopping in a car is a way to go. Don’t let negative feelings stop you from enjoying the ride. You can go to anger management courses, work through your aggression, and start loving the drive without all the yelling.

When you decide to move, you’ll be able to handle new highways, and that’s when you can ship your car to the new location. Contact a professional auto shipping company to transport your car in open carriers or if it is a luxury vehicle in enclosed trailers while you relax and avoid any kind of stress.

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