Admit it, road rage has gotten the best of you at least a few times. Congested roadways or slow drivers can be frustrating when you’re in a hurry, but the dangerous effects of letting the anger sink in aren’t worth it. Just how dangerous are we talking?
The NHTSA estimates that aggressive driving behaviors contribute to approximately one-third of all car crashes and approximately two-thirds of all car crash-related fatalities. So the next time you feel your blood boiling behind the wheel, use these ten techniques to calm yourself down. You never know how many lives it can save!
- Get your sleep: Ever feel cranky and irritated if you don’t get a good night’s sleep? It’s not the best idea to get behind the wheel in that condition. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night helps you wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
- Give yourself extra time: Giving yourself just enough time to drive to work or an appointment doesn’t leave any wiggle room for traffic or stopping for gas. Instead, leave ten minutes early to prevent yourself from running late, which causes some people to drive with wild abandon.
- Call ahead: We all run a bit late from time to time. When this happens, simply call your boss or whomever you’re meeting to let them know you’re a few minutes behind schedule. This can reduce feelings of anxiety associated with running late.
- Avoid sudden movements: Use your turn signals to notify other drivers of lane changes and apply gradual pressure to the pedals. Sudden movements can confuse other drivers, which can escalate everyone’s level of irritation.
- Distract yourself from triggers: If you find yourself in a traffic jam or another frustrating situation, turn on some soothing music or an audiobook to distract your mind from whatever is causing you to feel angry.
- Do not tailgate: Tailgating is a dangerous behavior that can upset everyone on the road. Instead, take a few deep breathes to calm yourself until you can safely pass the driver ahead of you.
- Practice breathing exercises: Taking a series of controlled, deep breaths is a great way to force your body to relax. Try this any time you begin to display aggressive driving behaviors.
- Avoid engaging other drivers: Other drivers may try to challenge you by revving their engines, flashing their lights or honking. This often results in racing and other dangerous behaviors, so do not engage if this happens to you.
- Prevent eye contact: Similar to the point above, do not make eye contact with aggressive drivers because it could be interpreted as “challenge accepted.”
- Record your drives: You may not believe you’re getting too aggressive behind the wheel until you hear it for yourself. Record some of your drives and play back the audio later. Hearing yourself scream out at other drivers may be the wakeup call you need to rein in your anger.
These tips are a great place to start, but everyone handles their own emotions differently. How do you stay calm in a frustrating driving situation?