Avoiding Road Rage In Yourself & Others
Do you spend a lot of time on the road? Is your daily commute especially stressful? People all over the world face similar driving situations, and many parts of the world I’ve been to have travel patterns and congestion far worse than I’ve seen here yet somehow manage to avoid the levels of violence we experience here. Staying calm and avoiding conflict while on the road are important not only for our health but for the well-being of our communities.
How Can I Stay Calm When People Around Me Are Driving Like Idiots?
Some days it feels like everyone got their driver’s license as a toy from a cereal box. Did all these people have to take the same test I did? Why is the person behind me so close? I just saw the tenth person on their phone, and they’re swerving as they drive! Feelings like this are common when we are considerate of others, and feel that not everyone seems so considerate of us (or anything else for that matter). Sometimes it feels like trying to stay calm when driving requires the tranquility only found in the most devout monks high in the Himalaya mountains, but there are a few simple things you can do while behind the wheel to help release your inner Zen master. The simplest idea is to just breathe. It sounds corny but it works. Breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold for three, then exhale slowly for at least a count of five. Remember the old idea of counting to ten? It may seem too simple, but again it can be effective. Switch it up and maybe count backward. In a second or third language. As an opera singer. If this seems silly, then perhaps it could help. What kind of music are you listening to? Maybe death metal isn’t the best choice for calming yourself in a traffic jam. Try different things, but most important is to have a plan in place for when you feel your blood pressure and heart rate rise. Try anything until you find something that works, because too much stress is bad for you both physically and mentally, and not only do you deserve to have peace, you will be a safer driver when you’re calm.
How Can I Help Discourage Road Rage In Others?
Do people seem to honk at you on a regular basis? Do people seem to drive more aggressively around you? Do you drive with your phone in your hand? Do you text and drive? Do you eat and drive? Can you take a moment and consider your own driving practices? Many people, when behind the wheel, engage in behaviors that are not only dangerous but often illegal. Obeying traffic laws is one way we can all make driving less hazardous and stressful. Following “little laws” like not turning left across a double-yellow line, signaling before turning, and following at a safe distance (count to two-one-thousand or two-alligator from the rear bumper of the car in front of you) as well as respecting “major laws” like speed limits, not texting while driving, and safely changing lanes would eradicate most of the road rage people experience. Generally speaking, if we could be more conscientious of others, and less self-absorbed, we could all have much more pleasant driving experiences. Most states have laws against texting and driving because of the dramatic increase in traffic accidents since the incorporation of cell phones into our lives. The National Safety Council reports that crashes due to cell phone usage continue to rise. We seem to feel that sending and receiving phone calls and texts is such a priority that we are will to risk our safety and the safety of others (including our loved ones). Until we make a concerted effort as a society to stop this practice, we will continue to be a hazard on the road and contribute to feelings of rage in others. If a call or text is really so important, please pull over.
What Do I Do If I Am The Object Of Someone Else’s Road Rage?
Whether or not you actually did something that might upset someone else is irrelevant. When someone is angry, there is often no way to help it, and the best idea is to try to stay away from them. Honking, break-checking, obscenities or lewd gestures and leaving on high-beams at night will only exacerbate and escalate the situation. Try not to antagonize the individual. If you feel your safety may be at risk, drive to a police station and contact the authorities. If the other driver stops abruptly in front of you and you cannot remove yourself from the situation, stay inside your vehicle and call the police.
What Else Can I Do To Alleviate My Stress On The Road?
If you’ve already got mellow music playing and a smile on your face when you leave the house, but still arrive at work feeling like you’re ready to go a few rounds with Mike Tyson (I could beat him!) there might be a few other tricks to try. Do you really have to drive? Carpools, ridesharing, and public transportation may take a little longer to arrive at your destination and expose you to the elements, but would it be worth it if you arrived both at work and at home with less stress? Can your work schedule be a little flexible? Maybe you could drive a little before or after prime traffic hours. Is there another way to get where you’re going? Again, maybe another route will take a little longer but be worth it in the long run.
What are your safety and sanity worth? In the end, we can’t control others’ driving, but we can model good behavior and hopefully encourage it in others. If more of us will commit to obeying traffic laws and being considerate of others, perhaps road rage can become a thing of the past.
About Our Guest Writer:
M.R. Felker, Content Writer. M.R. Felker lives near San Diego, travels frequently with his amazing wife, and likes to live dangerously by accepting candy from strangers.
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