For some, driving can be a leisurely activity. Some people don’t mind driving for long periods of time, and it can be a relaxing experience for them. For others, though, driving can be very stressful, inciting some strong emotional responses. In extreme circumstances, people might experience road rage.
What exactly is road rage? According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, road rage is defined as “aggressive or violent behavior stemming from a driver’s uncontrolled anger at the actions of another motorist.”
There is a clear distinct difference between aggressive driving and road rage. Aggressive driving can turn into a traffic offense. Road rage can turn into a criminal charge. Many of us are guilty of aggressive behavior on the road on some occasions, usually because we’re in a rush. Road rage, on the other hand, happens when pent up emotions come out while driving. These emotions are deep-seated. They can stem from a need for control over the road, or can be unchecked anger and aggression. Individuals can become enraged at another driver’s actions, and may desire to confront the other driver. Confrontations can end up in arguments, drivers being cited by the police, physical fights, or in worst-case scenarios, death. Road rage is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents next to distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving.
If you find yourself getting uncontrollably angry toward other drivers, you can try out a few methods so you won’t be tempted into road rage.
- Putting on soothing or relaxing music as background noise to help you relax while you are driving. Listening to music in the car can help you concentrate, though putting on loud music can be distracting and can even lead you to become aggressive on the road, so be careful!
- Make sure to leave room for other drivers on the road. Try to avoid tailgating and keep your distance from other aggressive drivers on the road. You are less likely to get annoyed with other drivers this way. Keep your distance, physically as well as emotionally.
- Try to refrain from making obscene gestures and prolonged eye contact with other drivers. Some drivers may perceive that as a challenge and it can set them off. We should try to save honking, hand gestures, and flashing our lights for situations when we need to alert other drivers of danger, and not to express anger.
- Remember that you can’t control how others drive, but you can be mindful of your own driving. If you do end up upsetting another driver, try to defuse the situation as soon as possible. We all make mistakes, and showing remorse to the other driver can prevent things from escalating to something worse.
- When another driver really upsets you, pull over to a safe location and take deep breaths. Think about the consequences of your actions before you decide to engage with the other driver. You don’t want to end up getting into legal repercussions or accidents. If a law enforcement officer catches you participating in road rage, you could be charged and be required to go to court. Road rage has too many risks that are not worth getting into over a few moments of anger. If things get out of hand, do not hesitate to pull over and call 911. Always remember to be smart and safe while on the road. Keep your distance. Stay safe.