Road rage. It’s a crazy demon that can come out of the best of us! Isn’t it strange how a seemingly nice, kind person can get so heated when stuck in a traffic jam or after getting cut off on the road? Though sometimes we laugh about other people’s road rage stories, it’s really a serious issue that can cause unnecessary harm to others. In fact, I recently read that aggressive driving accounts for about one-third of all crashes and about two-thirds of the resulting fatalities! Obviously, road rage is much more than a joking matter. So I decided to put together a post on how to avoid those moments where you flip people off, impatiently honk your horn or start driving aggressively because of impatience and annoyance. If you know it’s a problem for you, reading these tips could help you keep it under control. You’ll start having a much more enjoyable commute, and the road will be safer for you and everyone around you! 1. Leave earlier. I think it’s safe to say that most road rage stems from impatience. Many people underestimate how long it takes to get somewhere, try to rush through their drive and then get mad at anyone and everyone that gets in their way. So what if you had plenty of time to get where you need to be? You might just relax a bit! You could actually afford to slow down at that yellow light instead of speeding through. You could stay in one lane instead of zig-zagging into the fastest one. And you could have patience when someone else does you wrong on the road. Amazing! 2. Pretend you’re face-to-face. It’s crazy what people will do from the “security” of their car. People are much more comfortable when they have doors and windows between them and the other drivers on the road. Because of this level of comfort, people become overly confident and feel fine about telling others off or giving them the finger. But if you were face-to-face with the other drivers, I think it would be a different story. Try to pretend you’re walking along side those other drivers on the road, and then act accordingly. I think you’ll automatically be nicer. 🙂 3. Don’t blame others. As I said earlier — drivers often underestimate how long their commute will take. They also tend to blame others when something goes wrong on the road. So next time you get frustrated that someone has cut you off, give them the benefit of the doubt instead. Think about what you could be doing to cause this behavior (such as rushing through traffic because you are late!) 4. Take a different route. If there’s a certain freeway or cross street that you just KNOW brings out the worst in you, I’ve got a really easy fix for you. Why not just take a different street to get to your destination? I’m willing to bet there is more than one way to get where you’re going, so if you can avoid the traffic and havoc of a certain area, go for it! 5. Don’t seek revenge. No matter how well you obey traffic laws or plan in advance, there will certainly be times when other drivers are at fault. If someone is going 20 miles below the speed limit on the freeway or speeding through stop signs, don’t immediately think of how you can get revenge. This is the worst of road rage, and can actually land you with a criminal record! So keep a cool head, let it go, and move on. 6. Do some self-reflection. When you’re focused on everything the other drivers are doing wrong, you tend to inflate your own driving abilities in your mind. If you’ve ever thought, “What an idiot – he’s driving 15 miles over the speed limit! I would never do that,” then you are probably in need of some self-reflection. So next time you get behind the wheel, put yourself in check and make sure you are not the one with the problem. Edmunds.com recommends evaluating yourself with the following statements to see if they ring true for you: – I regularly exceed the speed limit in order to get to work on time. – I tailgate other drivers, especially those who sit in the left lane. – I flash my lights and honk my horn to let drivers know when they annoy me. – I verbally abuse other drivers whether they can hear me or not. – I frequently weave in and out of traffic to get ahead. – I feel the need to set bad drivers straight. 7. Listen to calming music. You may not realize how it effects you, but music can have a serious impact on your mood. If you’re listening to heavy rap, aggressive rock or otherwise intense music, you’re naturally going to feel more aggressive toward other drivers. So when you head out at a time when there might be traffic, opt for some mellow jams to lighten the mood. You might even find yourself letting cars go in front of you or offering the close parking spot to someone else. 🙂 Hey, you never know! 8. Reduce stress in other areas of life. When you’re already stressed about a million other things, that stressful vibe will certainly be reflected in your driving habits. Other areas of stress might include working overtime, unresolved conflict with family members, lack of exercise, money worries and so much more. Some of these issues can be resolved easily once you recognize them, but others might require help from a therapist or close family member. Identify stress points in your life and let them go. You’ll feel better overall, and it will show in your driving! 9. Steer clear of crazy drivers. Along with seeking revenge, some people just love to push their limits and get up close and personal with the crazy drivers on the road. This kind of confrontation will only fuel the road rage. So if you see someone driving like a mad man, just get far away. Slow down, head to the far lane or turn the corner. Just do what you have to do and avoid the issue completely! 10. Rest up. Lack of sleep is another huge stress point for many people. If you’ve only had a few hours of sleep, you’ll naturally be more on edge. You also might feel behind schedule and rushed through your day, so the road rage will rear it’s ugly head quickly. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep before you hit the road. It will give you more patience — not to mention make you safer and happier overall!