How to Avoid Road Rage

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How to Avoid Road Rage

Road rage is a common problem for many drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 80% of drivers reported feeling angry, aggressive, or experienced road rage at least once in 30 days.

It's easy to get angry when someone else is driving poorly or, even worse, driving aggressively. We've all been there: You're stuck in traffic, and someone cuts you off. Or maybe they're tailgating you as you try to merge onto the highway.

Road rage can be a problem for all of us, but it doesn't have to take over your life. Here are some strategies on how to avoid road rage on your daily commute.

Practice positive driving habits

You can avoid road rage by building positive driving habits. The Federal Highway Administration says that unsafe lane merging, speeding through traffic, weaving between vehicles, and cutting other drivers off are some of the most dangerous behaviors. In the United States alone, 1,500 people have died in road rage-related accidents since 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So merge politely, and always err on the side of being courteous when merging into traffic lanes — especially during rush hour! If there isn't a space for you to merge without cutting off another driver and causing an accident, don't do it at all. Avoid tailgating (which can lead to road rage) and erratic braking (which also causes accidents).

Don't drive when tired, angry, or upset

Whether commuting to work or driving around town, it's important to make sure you're not driving when tired, angry, or upset. If you had a bad day at work or got in an argument with someone close to you, it might not be the best idea to get behind the wheel, according to DefensiveDriving.org.

Driving while tired can be hazardous. Fatigue slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and reduces your ability to pay attention. Anger is also a common cause of road rage because it can quickly turn dangerous when other motorists make mistakes on the road — especially if they don't apologize before they leave!

Instead of letting yourself become overwhelmed by anger while driving, take deep breaths, which will slow down your heart rate and relieve some tension instead of letting it build up inside and then letting it out through aggressive driving.

Use your horn sparingly

One of the worst things you can do as a driver is to use your car horn randomly. The horn should be used only in an emergency, and if you need to get another driver's attention, tap your horn lightly instead of honking and give the cars in front of you a few extra seconds to move through the traffic.

If someone behind you starts sounding their horn excessively or aggressively, do not retaliate by sounding yours back at them. If possible, move out of their way so they can pass by safely. As tempting as it may be, don't flash your lights or gesture back at them. These actions will only encourage further aggression from other drivers around, which can lead to road rage incidents.

Set reasonable expectations about your travel time

If you regularly travel on the same route, understanding that traffic can be unpredictable will save you a lot of frustration. If you need to be somewhere at a specific time, leave early enough to factor in any possible delays.

By planning and setting expectations for the future, you can reduce your feelings of stress and frustration. Road rage often comes from feeling stressed and being in a hurry. Allow extra time for your various trips and commutes so you can slow down and be more in control behind the wheel.

Playing music can reduce stress

You can reduce stress and prevent road rage by listening to upbeat or soothing music. If you cannot listen to music while driving, another option is to listen to audiobooks or educational material. This will keep your mind focused on something other than what other drivers are doing. If possible, avoid listening to loud music that may trigger aggressive thoughts.

Get enough sleep

You may not realize it, but the effects of lack of sleep can increase your chances of road rage. Studies show that lack of sleep is one of the contributing factors to irritability and anger while driving. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation also puts you at risk for serious accidents or injuries.

The bottom line? If you want to avoid road rage, endangering other people, or any accidents, make sure you get enough quality rest each night!

Ignore bad drivers and don't engage when provoked

If you notice another driver with aggressive driving behavior, distance yourself and refrain from making any rude gestures. It's best to slow down and let them get ahead or change lanes so you're not right next to each other. The California Department of Motor Vehicles stresses it's important to avoid drivers exhibiting dangerous behavior however you can.

Similarly, don't try to get even with someone else who's been antagonistic toward you on the road. If you made a mistake, apologize through eye contact or a quick gesture. This can defuse a hot situation before it turns into something serious.

If someone is intentionally trying to provoke you, acknowledge that they're angry but don't engage and let them pass by. If you feel your safety is in jeopardy, pull over and call the police. If a driver is following closely behind you or tailgating, it’s best to find a safe place to pull over and letting them pass before moving on again.

If things really escalate past a point where simply stepping back from one another isn't enough anymore, then find a place where there are people around so someone can help out if necessary, drive to the nearest police station or call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not go home if the angry driver is following you.

Stay safe on the road

Don't let the stress of driving get you down. Always keep in mind defensive driving practices to avoid problems during your commute, so you can enjoy your car rides and avoid road rage. Remember that most people are just trying to make it through their day — and if they're slowing you down, breathe in, breathe out, and just be on your merry way!

And if you need any help with your vehicle maintenance to keep you safer on the road, Audi Annapolis is here to help. You can visit us from Mondays to Saturdays or reach us at (443) 482-3250.

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