Heavy traffic, inconsiderate drivers, bad road conditions, uncomfortable vehicles, lack of parking, faulty GPS, unfavourable weather, and lengthy tolls are just a few things that can cause severe irritation to most drivers on the road.
In fact, for some people, the first few words of this article are enough to make their blood boil. There are a number of factors that contribute to one’s frustration behind the wheels. As such, some drivers act out their aggressions through swearing, rude hand gestures, honking, speeding, changing lanes without an indicator, tailgating, dangerous swerves and the list goes on and on!
All these unpleasant behaviours on the road are encapsulated by the term “road rage”. As driving is becoming a common mode of transportation for most people in today’s day and age, it has increased the frequency of hostile actions behind the wheels.
It is easy to feel isolated from the rest of the world when we are driving, and forget that there are people with different priorities on the road. Perhaps the person who cut your lane was rushing to the hospital to see a loved one or the person who moved extremely slow during a green light had faulty engines.
We do not think about these things when people bring inconvenience to us on the road. As a result, we may display road rage through name-calling, speeding, rude hand gestures, honking, shouting and careless driving.
However, people who have road rage may face increased health risks due to high levels of stress, tension, and anger. These chronic episodes of stress can also increase the risk of getting into a fatal car accident, which puts the safety of all drivers on the road at risk.
It is essential to remember that you have no authority over other drivers' actions or behaviour on the street. In addition to that, you have no influence over traffic conditions. Instead of fixing your focus over things that are out of your control, direct your attention to things within your control such as your own actions and behaviours on the road.
When you feel the urge to verbally or physically express your frustration to another driver, try to use cognitive-behavioural interventions like “Counting Idiots” to keep yourself grounded. Counting Idiots is a game that involves keeping a score of how many people have made themselves look silly on the road. This game can potentially turn road rage into a fun game that will prevent the expression of volatile actions on the road.
When you are feeling the heat of the moment, take slow and steady breaths to regulate your heart rate and emotions.
Try this: inhale through your nose, and imagine an air of calmness is soothing your body. As you exhale through your mouth, an air of stress that has taken residence in your body is released.
This can assist you in cleansing your body of stagnant air and stale energy, increasing blood oxygenation, and, of course, relieving tension. Focusing on your breathing directs your attention inward without diverting your attention away from the road. This method makes anger and frustration seem more distant.
Frustration on the road is usually associated with poor time-management. When we are in a hurry to get from one place to another, we are setting ourselves up for a disaster. And this can be avoided if we strategically planned our trips.
Try to leave at least 10 minutes earlier. This will allow you to have more time to drive from point A to point B without the stress of not having enough time to get to where you need to be.
It is easy to adopt an “eye for an eye” mentality on the road. If someone honks at you, you may get the urge to wind down your window and spit a few nasty words at them. However, we must remember that untreated rage that manifests as road rage can have severe negative consequences such as fatal traffic accidents.
It is important to remember that no matter what challenge you face on the road, road rage is never the answer.
Sometimes the root of road rage lies in inadequate sleeping patterns. Recent studies have revealed that people who are sleep deprived suffer negative emotions such as anger, frustration, irritability, sadness and a lack of spatial awareness. As such, they become vulnerable to road rage-related tendencies.
To avoid this, try to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night. When you are well-rested, you are more likely to handle your emotions and actions on the road with less carelessness and more mindfulness.