The following is a guest post by Justin Smith. Enjoy!
How To Avoid Road Rage In Yourself And Others
We've all been there. Some driver has just executed the most audacious maneuver on the road and almost caused a crash. You've managed to pull into the side of the road and are taking deep breaths to calm yourself after the incident. However, they've stepped out of the car and are making their way rapidly towards your vehicle shouting obscenities, as if the whole thing was your fault and they're the uncrowned god of the highways. What can you do to calm down such situations, and more importantly, how can you make sure you're not that man or woman whose another victim of the increasingly common social malaise known as road rage?
Don't Get Involved
If someone is trying to take out their road rage on you, then the best thing to do is to try to disengage completely. Don't take it personally – this is probably something they've done before and may well do again and are looking for an emotional reaction, hopefully one of submission and fear from you, which rather than placate them may give them license for even more extreme behavior. Try to look the other way and pretend the person isn't there if they're blocking your exit, or if you can just drive off calmly and within the speed limit, do so as soon as possible.
The Universal Thank You
One of the major triggers for road rage is surprisingly drivers who fail to acknowledge good behavior. People who let someone out at a junction or wait on a crowded street for another car to pass often feel that they're owed some kind of recognition for their good deeds, and if they don't receive this then they can literally fly off the handle. However, as you may already know, there is a universal hand symbol for thank you when your behind the wheel – a simple raised hand, palm forward, in the direction of the driver who is letting you through or giving way to your transit will let them know how much you appreciate their good deed and will stop them potentially flying off the handle.
One of the main ways in which you can avoid road rage outbursts from others is by making sure that your driving is impeccable. Keep below the speed limit, always signal and where possible adopt a polite attitude. This doesn't mean you have to let every driver through, but if you're coming up to a junction where there's a big queue, then what difference does letting one car through really make to your journey time? It's important that you also adopt an attitude where you're doing other drivers on the road favors because you have standards of behavior towards your fellow man, not because you want recognition and approval for your good deeds – as this can lead to anger and frustration as we explained in this article's previous point.
It's important that you're calm when you first sit down behind the wheel of your vehicle. If you're carrying a load of stress from other areas of your life, such as a domestic argument or a stressful day at work, then driving in traffic is unlikely to help you relax. Even if you have to go for a walk round the block make sure that you're in a placid state before you even put your keys in the ignition, do what ever is necessary to find that Zen like state of oneness with the world. This will stop you from experiencing further frustration with road users who are not behaving on the road in quite the fashion in which you would like them to.
Call The Police
If someone is seriously blocking your way and behaving in a threatening manner then wind up all your windows, lock your doors and call the police. Do not tell the other person involved in the incident that this is what you're doing, as this will likely inflame them further, but instead quickly and slowly tell the police your location and the drivers registration plate so that if they can send a response vehicle if they think the situation is serious enough.
If you are especially worried about road rage or you have repeated problems with one particular driver in your neighborhood, then you can now purchase a dashboard mounted camera that can be used to capture their outbursts. You can then present the recorded video to your local law enforcement agency who can use it as the basis of a criminal investigation into their behavior – hopefully eliminating the problems not only for you, but for your fellow drivers on the road.
If you find yourself experiencing frequent outbursts in the driver's seat where you're shouting at other drivers, gesticulating wildly, and beating the steering wheel with your fists in an uncontrollable rage then you should definitely consider taking some anger management classes before you do something you regret. Contrary to popular belief, these classes won't delve into the deep Freudian reasons behind your bad temper, but will instead teach you a bunch of strategies that you can use in your real life to keep your anger in check. You may even find that these classes improve your relationships with everyone in your life – not just other road users.
Although it's very easy to read about road rage in an article where it seems like many of the points are obvious, it can often be a very different case when you're faced with a large, irate man or woman, who looks like they're intent on using physical force to get their point across. Ultimately the best thing you can do in these situations is to try to remain as calm as possible and not to try to cause any agitation. Often simply agreeing with people will ultimately placate them and there's nothing wrong with apologizing to someone if it gets you out of a sticky situation and you never have to see them again. If a simple sorry will allow you to escape road rage, then don't feel that you've climbed down in any way to escape damage to your car, or worse still, to yourself.
Justin Smith works for BreakerLink and finds writing articles like this one helps him to unwind from his daily commute to work.
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