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Road rage - How do you deal with it?

Discussion in 'Safety First!' started by PatchyBoy, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. PatchyBoy

    PatchyBoy Esperto


    During our day to day commute, most of us would have experienced road rage - either initiated by someone or sometimes, by ourselves. I found this nice article about this subject and felt it might be useful and will also lead to a healthy discussion about how we handle this menace.

    According to the US Department of Transportation, if you drive to and from work each day, it's likely that you spend at least an hour of each day in your car. And sometimes, time spent in the car can skew your usual, placid self and change you into a raging bull of self-righteousness. Yet, remaining calm during an episode of road rage, whether directed at you or welling up from within you, is vital to keeping focused, minimizing your stress levels and coming out of the experienced safely.

    Road rage involves behaviors like obscene or provocative gestures, yelling, cursing and tailgating. It can also involve stopping of a car and walking up to yell or rant at another driver. In some cases, physical violence is involved, which is something you definitely want to avoid happening, so this article is targeted at the first set of behaviors and keeping yourself calm, to avoid escalating into physical contact or being followed by the road rage driver or victim.

    Road rage from another

    Consider why the other person is showing signs of road rage toward you, such as giving you the finger. Are you cutting them off, speeding up when they need to get over, or going too slowly in the faster lane? If it's not your driving, maybe you have a bumper sticker that has caused them to react badly? Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons for another person's road rage antics but if you're somehow contributing, it's good to know so that you can try and change the behavior that might be provoking it.

    Conceive of the person in road rage as being human. Just like you, this person commutes. Just like you, this person has a range of experiences throughout the day. Like you, this person hates traffic jams, snarls and breathing in car fumes. And just like you, this person isn't always perfect. However, perhaps unlike you, this person may have had some over-the-top experiences that have lead them to misbehave on the road at this time. For some, for some drivers the road brings out their most primitive urges and causes them to see driving as a form of competition or power play, in which they need to prove to others that they're in control and that you're simply in their way or not playing by their rules. This doesn't excuse their behavior by any means but it does help you to realize that this person's thinking processes are probably really screwed up. Which is all the more reason for you to remain as calm as possible so that you respond clearly and continue to see their humanness. Most reasons that might have caused this person to misbehave on the road can involve an element of irrationality or righteousness which you need to be careful not to give further justification to. Reasons may include:

    • Fatigue
    • Having had a bad day
    • Drugs or alcohol
    • Co-travelers bothering them or egging them on
    • Anger at life in general
    • Fears or anxiety about driving or being in traffic
    • An urgent need to get somewhere.

    Slow down, move over, and allow them to pass. Most people who are angry are in a hurry to get somewhere (even if it's not important, it seems so to them), and convince themselves that you're getting in their way. Make your goal to avoid any contact - the farther and faster they leave you in the dust, the better. If necessary, change your route to avoid further contact. You'll be more calm when you get to your destination.

    Use humor to deflect the rage. When someone gives you the finger, and you want to remain calm, pretend that they are telling you that you're number one. Or just laugh off their obscene gestures or yelling. Think of them as a goldfish stuck in a tank, mouthing away.

    Focus on when you're out of the traffic and away from this upsetting behavior. Think about what you're going to do when you get home. A relaxing bath, crawling into bed, reading, etc. Think about your children, your family or your friends and spending time with them shortly.

    Ignore the road rage behavior. Act as if they flipped off or yelled at the car next to, or behind, you. Just stare straight ahead, oblivious.

    Smile. Smiling at the road rager is the nice way to annoy them. Kill 'em with kindness.

    Turn the radio on to your favorite station. Sing along to the music, to get your mind off rush hour traffic; don't be afraid to turn that music way up. Or, choose music that you find soothing rather than arousing or lively. Either way, you should be able to create a bubble between yourself and the rudely gesturing blusterer beyond your car.

    Alternatively, plug in the iPod and listen to a podcast you're eager to hear. Or listen to an audiobook.

    Self calming after you initiated the road rage

    Confront your own penchant for misbehaving on the road. While it's not pretty to admit that you give in to moments of animosity and ugly gestures while out driving, if you do, it's important to acknowledge it so that you can do something about it. Signs you're participating in road rage include:

    • Foul looks, glaring in the rear vision mirror
    • Muttering under your breath and grumbling
    • Mouthing insults or yelling, perhaps even shaking your fists
    • Tailgating
    • Feeling anger about other drivers.

    Be aware of how your physiological system responds when you feel anger, hate or irritation at the thought your rights are being ignored. Your bodily responses when you perceive yourself to be endangered or angered include a jump in your respiratory rate, an increase in your heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and a rush of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-induced hormones. Happening infrequently, this is something you recover from. When you experience these reactions regularly though, you begin to endanger your long-term health, including elevated stress, heart health problems, hypertension and reduced immunity caused by stress.

    Use breathing tactics to self calm. Breathing deeply from your diaphragm is essential to calming and relaxing you. Breathing deeply helps to slow down the reactions mentioned in the previous step, including slowing your heart rate and blood pressure. You should notice a drop in sweating levels too. Training yourself to breathe deeply every time something bothersome occurs while out driving can help keep you calm. Breathe deeply when someone cuts in front of you or when they're driving too slowly in front of you. Breathe deeply when they make a sudden, unexpected turn. Every time something happens that has the potential to raise your ire, breathe deeply.

    Take your perfectionism to one side and drop it. It's your perception that you're the better driver, not theirs. No doubt they think it's you who is the lousy driver. The reality is probably somewhere in between for both of you. However, both of you are definitely prone to mistakes at one time or other, and some of these mistakes will manifest themselves on the road. Are you big enough to admit that their mistake, while unfortunate, is something you could easily have committed too?

    Think of the other person as human. As discussed in the section above, by humanizing the other person who has annoyed you, you stop seeing them as an impenetrable fortress of annoying-ness and start seeing that they're as vulnerable, tired, traffic-hassled and desirous of getting from A to B as you are.
    The people in the cars around you are mothers and fathers, siblings, sons and daughters, cousins, aunts and uncles, bosses and coworkers. They're filled with the hopes, fears and desires that you are too. Some of them are perhaps less focused than usual and have made an error of judgment but are you so perfect that you are entitled to judge them?

    Keep images on your dashboard to remind you of who or what really matters. A photo of your spouse, children, friends or a pet can keep you centered when you begin to feel angry about another driver on the road. Glance at this photo while breathing deeply, to help you register what matters and why it is important to keep calm.

    Just give the enraged driver the peace sign and smile. This usually diffuses the situation. If not, continue to follow the steps and try to find a way to leave if the situation escalates to a dangerous level.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2016
  2. Flywheel

    Flywheel Regolare

    I should probably take print out of this and read it everyday before I leave work :) . I usually start of driving like a sane person and let a few mistakes pass but by the time I reach home I start mumbling and grumbling about the way everybody drives. We sometime/most of the time forget that the other drivers have had a stressful day at work as well, I try to constantly remind myself of this which helps a little but not always ;)
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  3. limraj

    limraj Esperto

    Linea 1.3
    I have experienced most of the situations here (though not a finger).
    The below was really the one I wanted to practice more often (well, I am yet to give out a single smile )...
  4. ghodlur

    ghodlur Esperto


    You rightly touched the most sensitive nerve of the TFIians. Thanks for starting the thread.

    It is known fact that nobody is born with a road rage attitude, this builds in us over the period of our driving time. I have been a victim og road rage many a times although not physically but verbal abusing just because I chose to stick to the traffic rules and regulations. Many a times irrespective of the size of the vehicle one is riding (right from a bicycle to a monstrous tanker trailer), the rider believes that he has the first right to make the move, rest all are wax models who should be wearing the plastic smile to let them go. Until and unless the sense of self discipline and patience inbuilds withing every driver on road, road rage is going to be a common phenomenon. Earlier it was just limited to verbal rage but that has now gone to such an extreme that people are getting killed for petty issues.

    My mantra to counter the road rage is
    1) Stick to the traffic rules - this way legally you are safe
    2) Dont let anger come over you within seconds, calmly analyze keeping yourselves in the other person's shoes.
    3) If you are caught in one, try to get to road side so that traffic isnt obstructed or else more will pour in.
    4) Take help of the nearest traffic cop to diffuse the tension.
    5) Start with a Sorry only if you are at fault. For everything else, show others the real fault. If you start with a sorry is such cases, chances of ending up as the culprit is maximum.
    6) Talk only to the affected persons, not to a group. You can ask the group to mind their way.
    1 person likes this.
  5. gurjinder

    gurjinder Staff Member Janitor

    Good discussion.

    I have succumbed to the temptation of getting angry at other drivers and taking rash actions more number of times than I can remember. At times, if the driver behind honks/flashes lights to demand a pass in a busy city situation, I get pretty worked up and will not give way no matter what. Only yesterday did I get out of the car and spoke my mind to a person who cut me off pretty abruptly. But, all said and done- it is the wrong way to handle things. I try everyday to ignore all provocations and I am successful at times and not so much at others. Driving in today's traffic is already a pretty stressful exercise and reacting to the 24x7 circus on the road only makes it worse.

    The only instance where I experience no feelings of road rage is while riding the Bullet. I keep chugging along at 40-50kmph and just mind my own damn business. :D

    4 people like this.
  6. asimpleson

    asimpleson Esperto

    Linea 1.3
    This is one area where I thank the government for not having lax gun laws!

    I have heard a story here in Mumbai where someone pulled out a gun towards a bunch of guys in car doing grand-masti!

    Here is one such story of beloved Padma Shri Vishwanath Dinkar Patekar aka Nana Patekar ! :D

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  7. Volt

    Volt Novizio

    @PatchyBoy, brilliant, brilliant thread. I cant thank you enough for starting this very timely discussion. While the reasons many be many, as rightly pointed out, best way to deal with road rage is to treat others as 'humans'.

    @ghodlur, I too try to stick to traffic rules, but the problem is, you often get abused and fingered for waiting at red lights, people taking wrong 'U' turns and even driving on the wrong side. This get me worked up, as does somebody constantly flashing lights when there is no chance of passing, as pointed out by @gurjinder. The solution I guess is just to 'smile' or simply wave it off. I would like to hear the Team's opinion on this.
  8. sakartechin

    sakartechin Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3
    Below all i would need and Really make sense in bangalore:traffic traffic and places where I am not much familiar. You will be waiting for minutes to make a u-turn or turn right suddenly a person (most of the time a cab driver ) overtakes from your left :rageand goes way and by the time signal turns red.

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  9. Surya

    Surya Superiore

    Namma Bengaluru
    i was driving on a straight lane on express way today morning and after a while i had to slow down for a moving temp truck in front of me as soon i put my indicator flashing right to overtake people are not ready to slow down they honk and honk and honk like they are firing bullets at some body i waited patiently even for the nano walla who was honking wildly to pass through at one time i felt frustrated then calmed down myself and moved..
    2 people like this.
  10. DRIV3R

    DRIV3R Esperto

    Dealing with Road Rage boils down to the tolerance levels of each individual.

    There are 'n' situations we would face everyday which would sure work us up. Even if we had a bad day at work, we can do our bit by getting relaxed before you strap our seatbelts on, to drive away.

    Things that work me up within the city:
    • A slow chugging car/bike blocking two lanes and the traffic behind
    • Guys who keep honking at my back while I am waiting at a red signal
    • High-beams both from the front and back
    • Pesky bikers trying to squeeze between gaps thereby inflicting scratches/hitting our ORVMS, while he is actually not going anywhere while waiting at the red signal
    • Footpath riders
    and many more...
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2016
    Raj_pol and livelyyoungman like this.

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