A few years ago people didn’t know the term “road rage.” While there may have been instances of people getting upset while driving a vehicle, the newspapers and television stations didn’t spread the word until it became a social problem. In addition to the massive amount of information about road rage in the media, it seems people have become more likely to take matters into their own hands.
If we assume that road rage has really become a serious problem rather than something created in the media, we should probably find out some ways to prevent it – especially if we are the one who turns to road rage as a solution.
Where do we Start?
First of all, we need to change our attitude about road rage and understand that it can be prevented and eventually eliminated. Then we need to get past the idea that road rage is always a mental disorder that can only be controlled with prescription drugs. But not all people who get angry and lash out during stressful driving situations need to be hospitalized.
Some people would react physically and harm others under other circumstances as well. Disagreements on the highway aren’t the only situations in which some people will react violently. If they really have criminal tendencies they have to be dealt with in a completely different way than people who are upset by a driving situation that makes them uncomfortable and want to act.
For the Rest of Us
What do we do first? We have to try. Start by realizing that road rage often begins with fear and with being embarrassed because someone has made a mistake. We may even be the one who made the mistake. We also have to direct our “treatment” of road rage at the real source – stress.
With these two ideas in mind, we can begin by dealing with stress in general, stress that may occur in any situation (including road rage). Counselors who specialize in helping people deal with stress advise starting with deep breaths that will help us stay calm. Getting oxygen to the brain helps us think more clearly, which isn’t happening during road rage.
The second step involves getting off the highway and away from the stressful situation. Use the nearest off ramp or side road, stop the car, get out and walk around. Remind yourself that your life and the lives of others are more important than getting to that appointment or taking out frustration on someone who “got in your way.”
There are a number of other things we can use to reduce stress while driving and prevent road rage. Listening to gentle music at a low volume helps keep us calm and under control. It’s best not to listen to rock music, metal music or other aggressive/loud styles. We may also be able to defuse a situation by imagining ourselves in the other driver’s place and trying to understand why they are acting out. Laughter will certainly help. Just think of that annoying driver as someone who is trying to make it to the nearest restroom for “immediate” reasons. Finally, when faced with a road rage situation, immediately focus on the good things that await you when you arrive.
These are not guarantees but they will probably help.