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Getting to Know Road Rage and Learning How to Deal with It

by Stephen Thomas on June 27, 2013

Road Rage - How to Deal with It

Driving can be either an extremely joyful and relaxing experience, or terribly stressful. When traffic, noise, and annoying drivers all strike at once, some people experience a momentary state of extreme anger known as “road rage”.

Many doctors believe in a medical basis for road rage, also known as Intermittent Explosive Disorder. It causes sudden bursts of negative emotion in inappropriate circumstances. It is estimated that 5% – 7% of people suffer from road rage, so it is almost certain that you will interact with aggressive drivers in the midst of road rage at some point in your driving experiences. It is important to understand what it is and how to deal with it when it occurs in yourself or in other drivers.

Preventing Road Rage in Yourself

The most important step to preventing a buildup of road rage or other sudden emotional outbursts is developing a keen awareness of your emotional habits and state of mind. You need to notice when little things annoy you more than they should, or when you start personally blaming and attacking other drivers. Be especially aware of potentially aggressive tactics you might be employing without realizing it. Don’t tailgate, blast your horn unnecessarily, yell or make rude gestures at other drivers, flash your headlights, or change lanes erratically.

If you find yourself making these emotional lapses in judgment, do whatever it takes to bring yourself back into a healthy state of mind. Pull over to the side of the road and do some deep breathing. Listen to some relaxing music. Call a friend. Get something to eat. Just make sure you don’t endanger yourself and others by letting your emotions take control of you. If you feel road rage is a chronic or recurring problem for you, consider enrolling in a defensive driving course.

Avoiding Road Rage in Others

Other drivers on the road can become extremely dangerous when experiencing road rage, because their judgment and motor controls are sacrificed. Additionally, some drivers can be so distraught as to intentionally seek to cause harm to other drivers in their momentary anger. If you encounter someone like this, do everything you can to get out of their way and avoid inciting further anger. Offer obvious signs of apology if it appears an enraged driver is particularly mad at you. You can do a lot by avoiding actions on the road which may incite anger, such as driving unnecessarily slower than the speed limit.

If an extremely aggressive driver is endangering your life on the road, get off the road as quickly as possible and call 911 to report him or her. The police encourage you to notify them if dangerous conditions exist, and aggressive driving should be treated just like drunk driving. You may help save someone’s life by reporting them.

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