Road rage is nothing more than poorly controlled anger. It is caused for three primary reasons. It can be the result of frustration because you are running behind for an appointment, you feel like you have no control, or the poor driving practices of another driver. None of these represent the end of the world and should be dealt with more as a nuisance and less as a catastrophe.
Most of us like to test the clock. Because we are overtaxed on our time, squeezing the most from every minute becomes our way of life. Invariably, if you push yourself to the final minute to leave for an appointment, the traffic lights will work against you. Every driver will drive somewhat below the posted limit. There will be an accident or road construction that causes a traffic tie up. Any or all of these may happen when you are traveling on a limited time budget.
The solution is to allow enough time to compensate for all but the worst case scenario. This will allow you to begin the trip relaxed. If there are delays, it is unlikely that they will make you late. The chance of a road rage flare up from your vehicle is reduced considerably.
No one enjoys getting stuck in a traffic jam whether it is an accident, rush hour, or a construction zone. We find ourselves looking for that small break in the adjoining lane to try to move one or two car lengths farther into the back up. No matter which lane we pick, it seems the other one always moves just a little faster. It is easy to become frustrated by this loss of control. The traffic jam feels more like a prison, and anger starts to rise.
We need to realize that there are just times when things happen that we can’t control. Try taking some deep breaths. Tune the radio to some station that plays music that will relax you. Spend the down time thinking about your next project or an important conversation that you may be needing to have with someone. No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to move a lot faster than the traffic around you, so you should just try to see it as a time to do something else to occupy the time as much as possible while still being able to drive safely.
This will give you back control. The world around you tried to steal minutes from your life, but you have chosen not to let it happen. You can reclaim the minutes by planning ahead to have something to do if traffic stops. This is infinitely better than swearing at the cars around you who are just as helpless as you are.
There will always be those times when it seems like it’s idiot day on the freeway. Every moron in the northern hemisphere has come to hold a convention in your driving path. You get cut off, people turn in front of you, or they just demonstrate over and over that they don’t know how to drive. You find yourself honking the horn and yelling at drivers and your passengers.
We will never be able to predict exactly how people around us will drive. It is possible to learn better ways to respond than building anger into a rage. When you get into your car, determine ahead of time that you are not going to let other drivers ruin your day. Make a game of it. Try to watch for bad drivers. You may be able to categorize them and see how many of each variety shows up on a given trip.
Some types might be the “I don’t know how to take my turn at a stop sign,” “I never know when to pull into a traffic stream,” “I’ve never learned how to use the on ramp to the interstate,” or “I like to put my signal on when I leave the house.” You probably have a variety of others. Anything that you do to keep your anger at bay is a plus. There are other possibilities. You will just have to experiment to find out what works for you.