A sea of red brake lights flicker, the sound of horns and screeching tires rip through the air as five o’clock rolls around and millions of people flood highways and city streets, trying to get home as fast as possible.
This scenario is a common one for people across the globe, and is a veritable breeding ground for road rage and accidents. From screaming out a window to fender benders and freeway shootings, road rage can cause everything from high blood pressure to death. Few are immune to it and there are a variety of ways to combat the onset of road rage, or avoid the reactions of others who are in the throes of anger. I give you my top four ways to avoid road rage confrontations, some from the Department of Motor Vehicles, some from personal experience:
1) Avoid aggressive drivers. This one is from the DMV, but I agree with the idea. If you see someone weaving madly in and out of traffic, causing drivers around them to slam on their brakes and swerve, it would probably be best to just stay far, far away from them. If they seem to be making their way closer to you, give them the space the desire, because blocking them off will make them drive even more erratically. There is nothing you can do to stop this person from driving like a lunatic, so just try to avoid them at all costs.
2) I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who likes to bark at drivers when they make her angry. Yelling at cars just made her even angrier, and she was generally a frustrated wreck by the time she got home from work. However, she one day randomly barked at a lady who was trying to cut her off. It scared the bajesus out of the lady and made my friend laugh so hard she cried. She now barks at people when they drive badly, because it releases her stress, and freaks other people out. Normal? Maybe not, but hey, I tried it one day and the looks I got from other drivers were priceless.
3) The DMV also recommends that you know your own driving style. How does this relate to road rage? Well, what they are not so subtly hinting at here is that your driving may be part of the problem. Do you tailgate? Change lanes quickly and without signaling? These are signs that you not only suffer from road rage, but you also are a hazard to other drivers on the road. Even if you are angry and just want to get from point A to point B as fast as humanly possible, think before you act, because driving is a privilege and your anger could cause bodily harm to you and others on the road. Plus, if you crash your car while trying to make it home five minutes faster is going to ruin your day even worse than being stuck in traffic.
4) My personal fall-back when struck by road rage is to crank up the loudest, angriest rock music you can find in your car and belt it out. This is even more therapeutic if the car windows are down. When stuck in miles and miles of traffic it is really easy to get frustrated and yell, or try and weave through other cars in a vain attempt to leave the roadway. However, after suffering through years of sitting in Bay Area traffic I have finally learned that the only way to make it through without flipping out and having a heart attack is to sing out loud. Preferably to Offspring’s “Bad Habit.”
The National Institute of Health did a study on road rage and actually found a medical cause that may make some drivers more prone to anger while behind the wheel. The institute did a study of 10,000 drivers and found a condition they named Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Sufferers of IED have had multiple outbursts they are significantly out of proportion with the situation at hand and generally someone or something gets damaged.
The moral of this story is that in this day and age, we are all stuck with crappy drivers all around us for large parts of each day. Plenty of us are crappy drivers as well; I know that I drive too fast sometimes. But instead of getting mad, just crank up the tunes. Or bark. Your choice.