Let’s face it. Some of us succumb to road rage. We end up venting our over-the-top frustrations on some unfortunate soul. And others of us are victims of road rage, finding ourselves essentially being assaulted on the highway. Well, regardless of which side of this divide you fall on, experts have some advice to help keep things under control.
For reasons that remain a bit murky, when some of us get into a machine — in this case an automobile — we start acting like one. We find ourselves in a curious reality that mixes human interaction with the brain’s sense of suddenly being “Iron Man.” Suddenly, the courtesies and tolerance that often characterize face-to-face interactions disappear, and too many of us begin relating to each other like things instead of persons.
According to AAA, over 60% of drivers admit having lost their temper behind the wheel, and over 85% report having been a victim of road rage or aggressive driving. What to do?
If you tend to be an aggressive or angry driver, try this:
- If you feel yourself getting steamed, take a moment to visualize how you would look if you were acting this way in public outside of your car. Not attractive.
- Remember that all drivers make mistakes, including you, and resist the impulse to “teach someone a lesson.”
- Lead by example. Drive in a manner you wish others would follow, but don’t insist that they do (it will only make you more angry).
- Don’t rush. Studies show that hurrying is a primary catalyst for anger. Leave early enough that you have extra time to compensate for heavy traffic, challenging weather or other delays.
If you are the target of an aggressive driver or road rage, try this:
- Avoid eye contact and don’t retaliate against any insulting hand gestures.
- If you made a driving error, try giving a wave that says “I’m sorry.” Smile.
- Do not challenge the person by speeding up or, if they are tailgating, slowing down.
- If the driver’s actions are endangering you or others and you can read his or her license plate or identify the make and color of the vehicle, call 911 as soon as you safely can.
- If the driver seems to be targeting you and won’t disengage, drive to a police or fire station, or another very public area. Call 911 for assistance.
Bottom Line: According to AAA, at least 1,500 people are injured or killed each year by aggressive drivers. Do your best to avoid being part of the problem, on either end.