At least 1,500 Americans are killed every year in what are described as “aggressive driving” situations. These may involve vehicular accidents that occur because of road rage as well as incidents of homicide stemming from aggressive driving. With spring weather upon us, when drivers everywhere begin to regain their confidence after a long winter of tiptoeing over icy roads, traffic congestion is certain to increase, as are the cases of road rage.
Road rage is one of the most pervasive problems on today’s roadways. Whether on the highway or in your own neighborhood, you could find yourself either the victim or the perpetrator of road rage, and not understand quite what has happened to you until long after the anger has subsided. Preventing road rage in yourself involves understanding your own tendency to become angry at relatively minor problems that appear, and by curbing that anger before it gets out of control.
If you find yourself the victim of road rage, it’s important to avoid aggravating the situation. If someone leaves their vehicle to confront you, immediately roll up your windows, lock your doors, and call the local police or highway patrol. If they appear to be violent or threatening, immediately call 9-1-1.
the proactive measures for avoiding the anger that builds into road rage are much easier to deal with than you might suspect. To begin with, avoid overly congested roadways during peak times of the day. If necessary, take a different route home or leave work just a few minutes later than you normally would. You might be surprised by the difference just five to ten minutes makes to traffic congestion. Next, avoid aggressive driving such as following too closely, cutting people off, and speeding. This increases your stress level and can lead to confrontations with other drivers. Also problematic can be loud music, inflammatory talk radio stations and abusive language or gestures.
A publication of Harvard Medical School indicates that road rage or “intermittent explosive disorder” is a mental health disorder that effects between three and four percent of the population regularly and is treatable with medication. That means that the rest of us, prone to minor acts of roadway terrorism, as opposed to the full-blown newsworthy accounts of road rage, can usually do well just to take a few deep breaths, switch the radio to easy listening, and think pleasant thoughts.
AAA Foundation; “Aggressive Driving”; Louis Mizell, Inc.; www.aaafoundation.org