Keeping Your Cool When You’re Behind The Wheel
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” ~ George Carlin
Road ragers come in all ages and women can be as bad as men. Aggressive driving ranges from tailgating to running red lights. Road rage can be irrational and can become violent. Road rage accounts for about one third of all crashes and about two thirds of resulting fatalities.
If you answer yes to any of these questions or you know someone who would, then this article needs to be read.
1) Do you frequently weave in and out of traffic to get ahead?
2) Do you tailgate other drivers, especially ones who do not move out of your way?
3) Do you honk your horn at drivers who annoy you?
4) Do you regularly exceed the speed limit?
5) Do you yell at other drivers or make gestures at them whether or not they can see you or hear you?
6) Do you feel the need to set what you consider to be a bad driver, straight?
7) Do your family and friends hate riding with you?
Here are twelve suggestions to help you reduce your stress level when behind the wheel:
1) Turn Down The Music. Loud music can increase your edginess. Aggressive music makes you even edgier. If you tend to be a road rager then consider listening to calm music or a comedy station.
2) Plan Ahead. Do you try to make up for lost time because you were ill prepared? Add time to your anticipated travel time so that you do not have to try to compensate for running behind. Prepare the night before so you don’t have to rush around. Anticipate weather conditions and don’t let your gas tank get too low.
3) Get Plenty Of Sleep. People get cranky if they do not get enough sleep. Six to eight hours is the recommended range of sleep. Not getting enough sleep makes people prone to have a lowered frustration tolerance level.
“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
4) Never Drive When Angry. Anger will influence how you drive. Aggressive drivers who are ticketed end up in anger management therapy. Save yourself the cost of the fine and avoid mandated therapy.
5) Be A Considerate Driver. Obey the rules of the road. Always use your turn signals. Allow people to merge. Move to the right for faster traffic to go by. Pull into the closest turn lane, don’t merge directly over to the farthest lane. Treat other drivers the way you’d like to be treated.
6) Avoid glaring eye contact and hand gestures. It only takes one of these to escalate into an aggressive situation.
7) Accept The Fact That Not Everyone Drives To The Same Standard. And sometimes people make mistakes. Don’t be so easily offended or upset.
“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
8) Do Not Try To Teach Another Driver A Lesson Or Try To Get Even With Them If You Feel Disrespected. Your vehicle is as deadly a weapon as a firearm. Is making your point worth endangering your life or the lives of others?
9) Be Aware Of Your Surroundings. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Look ahead and anticipate changes in traffic.
10) Don’t Be Easily Offended. Ignore another driver’s road rage or rude behavior.
“He who angers you conquers you.” ~ Elizabeth Kenny
11) Remember To Breathe. Slow deep breaths will slow down your reactions and reduce your stress level.
12) Put A Photo On Your Dashboard. If you tend to be aggressive behind the wheel, place a picture of your spouse, children, pet or close friend on your dash. By glancing at this photo it can remind you what matters most and why it is important to remain calm.
“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. He is the author of How To Be A Great Partner. Mark has been in the field of helping individuals and couples since 1986. He has a vast amount of experience and he can have a very positive impact on your life and your relationship. If you are looking for individual or marriage counseling, please call his office in Valdosta, Georgia and his staff will help you set up an appointment.
South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center
2704 N. Oak St. Blg B-3
Valdosta, Georgia 31602