Controlling Your Temper With Road Rage

trafficThe majority of us have encountered some form of road rage, whether on the receiving end or the one shaking a fist. It can be absolutely terrifying to view and the statistics back up how dangerous road rage truly is.

According to the NHTSA 94% of traffic accidents are caused by human error. Of all of those, 33% of them are linked to road rage like behaviors. For instance: misunderstanding the intent of other drivers, or illegal maneuvers.

The AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety completed a study in 1990 and reviewed over 10,000 accidents that were linked to driver violence. They discovered that, over a 7-year period, over 12,500 injuries could be linked to driver violence. Those incidents resulted in 218 deaths that could be linked to road rage, and that most of those were deliberate murders carried out by angry drivers. Unfortunately, that number has been rising steadily- 7% every year.

Aggressive driving has been linked to 66% of recent traffic fatalities, and 37% were caused by a firearm as opposed to a collision.

Many drivers move from victim to aggressor in response to angry drivers, and half of drivers admitted as much in an AAA poll. This leads to more accidents, and more deaths. It may feel good in that moment, but seeking retribution escalates minor incidents to dangerous driving. It is not only you that you put at risk when you engage in this behavior, but everyone on the road.

There are a number of ways to avoid road rage, and many are in your hands to prevent a situation from arising. By following the rules of the road and being a courteous driver you limit the risk. Slow driving in the fast lane, tailgating, and cutting people off are sure fire ways to incite anger.

If you are on the receiving end of someone’s rage, do not engage. Let them have plenty of room to move away from you, do not make eye contact and stay in a populated area. The most important step is to remain calm in order to diffuse the situation, rather than escalating it, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

While the behavior of other drivers can trigger outbursts, it is more to do with stress issues at work, or at home.

It is important to never take it personally. If someone drives badly that has nothing to do with you, it wasn’t personal that they cut you off or crowded you out of your lane. It could have been a momentary lapse of concentration, or they could be driving stressed or angry. However, it is their problem, not yours. You were not the cause of it and it is your choice to remain calm and not escalate the problem.

You can be a compassionate driver. Have you ever made a mistake while driving, or gotten behind the wheel to drive to an emergency, a funeral, or a stressful meeting? There could be a number of reasons for people driving badly, so rather than jumping to the conclusion that someone is a moron and getting angry about it- cut them some slack. You never know what someone else is going through, and understanding that could play a part in their driving it allows you to remain calm.

Visualize peace. This works whether you’re driving or not. Repeating positive affirmations is a great way to reduce your stress.

Just because you are a good driver, or you have made the decision to be a courteous driver… doesn’t mean everyone has. Don’t expect other drivers to behave as you expect them to. The reason we need to remain so aware on the road is because we never know how other drivers will react. Some people are rude, and as a result some people are rude drivers. Unfortunately, that is just a fact of life.

There are consequences of road rage. Yes, it feels amazing to let our frustrations out, but just consider how road rage feels: stressed, tense, angry, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure rises. You could end up destroying someone else’s car, or your own, it could lead to a criminal record, jail, potentially losing your job, as well as the cost of your insurance increasing. Not to mention that it could result in an accident in which you or others are injured or killed, or worse: it could escalate outside of the vehicle and result in violence.

Look at those consequences and tell me that indulging a moment of road rage is worth it?

Instead, you should remain calm and feel happier, reduce your risk of accident, injury or death, you won’t be heading to jail, walking away with a criminal record, or dealing with all of the added stresses that come with the consequence of road rage.

Consider the facts of road rage: over a third of road rage incidents involve firearms, it has been the cause of over 12,000 injuries that could have been prevented, and every year 1,500 people die because of road rage.

While men are the more likely gender to experience daily road rage, men between 35 and 50 are the most susceptible. September is the month where most incidents occur, and Tuesdays at 5:45 are also statistically higher.

People who indulge in road rage see it as a personal threat to them, and their families- that’s what 60% of drivers surveyed said. Speeding is considered aggressive driving and when surveyed only 14% of drivers felt that driving 10 miles over the limit was extremely dangerous. Of those drivers that fall into the unsafe category 62% of them have not been stopped by police over the last year.

Not only are aggressive drivers more likely to drink and drive, they are also more likely to drive without securing their seat belt. Unfortunately, the statistics aren’t likely to improve as over 90% of Americans drive every day and 40 hours of their year are spent in traffic jams. 56% of men said they feel road rage on a daily basis, while 44% of women say the same. Unfortunately, there are no official road rage statistics as no government agency tracks these incidents, so the most recent data is from 1997.

Helen Williams

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