Picture yourself cruising along the inside lane of your nearest motorway, a little late for a meeting, your eyes are on the road while your favourite album plays through the dashboard. Then, all of a sudden, a car’s rear-end slices the road in front of you like a samurai sword as it’s driver ambushes the slip road to your left forcing you to break hard. How do you react?
Timothy Brookes reacted with a knife. He got 15 years. Road rage is a real threat! A recent survey showed that Britain’s drivers are exposed to road rage more than any other country, and that 85% of UK drivers admit to showing aggression behind the wheel. Young men (and increasingly young women) are the most common road ragers.
On the whole, road rage is brought about by stress or similar psychological issues. Mental health professionals define certain behaviours as problematic when they lead to undesired consequences. During your driving lessons, you'll have your instructor to keep you on the straight and narrow, but in post-test life road rage can lead to confrontations with strangers and with the law. At worst victims have been pepper sprayed, stabbed, beaten, run down and shot. But even the smallest aggressive act at high speeds could be catastrophic.
Traffic incidents act as anger catalysts and being behind the wheel in a contained space seems to bring stress to a boiling point. True, stress relief is usually a good thing, but on the road it can be lethal.
There are various ways to deal with road rage. About Health offers a list of techniques, such as breathing deeply, but perspective matters too.
One problem is the belief that it’s always the other driver’s fault . This may or may not be true, however we do not have control over other people’s driving. Try concentrating entirely on your own driving ability instead. How good are you at dealing with bad drivers? Keep your eye on the cars around you but not the drivers in them. This way you can safely improve your driving.
By getting angry you have let another driver worsen your day. Realise your reaction is down to you, not anyone else, and react kindly and safely instead. Road rage can be life-threatening, not something anyone wants to be a part of. Psychology Today makes an amusing suggestion: ask yourself, “WWDLD? What Would the Dalai Lama Do?” Amusing, but perhaps appropriate.
This kind of advice is much easier to write and read, than to follow in the heat of the moment but that is no reason to ignore it. Each time it will become slightly easier and each time the road will become slightly safer.