It’s Monday morning, and you just came to a dead stop in the road behind an endless ocean of cars on the highway. There is almost always something going on up ahead that slows your morning commute to a crawl. Hey, at least it gives you time to think up a really good excuse to tell your boss why you’re late.
Eventually you start moving and about the time you start getting up enough speed to be getting somewhere, someone pulls around you and cuts you off without even the courtesy of using a blinker. You know why they didn’t use their blinker because you saw them texting with one hand and holding the steering wheel with the other as they drove by!
Orlando, Florida lawyers Steinger, Iscoe & Greene say that, “Most drivers have been distracted while driving in some way at some point. Basically, any activity that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction and can potentially lead to a serious car accident. Distracted drivers can cause serious problems.”
Tell you something you don’t know, right? The only problem you’re worrying about right now is how that driver that cut in front of you is making your blood boil. If that feeling sounds familiar, you are experiencing the beginning of road rage.
Road rage is becoming more common as commutes get longer and as traffic on the highway increases every year. It’s best to learn how to control road rage because if you don’t, you could wind up in a lot of legal trouble.
The following tips will show you the way to stay Zen and avoid road rage:
1. Take a Deep Breath
The next time someone cuts you off or is tailgating you, use the breathing method to calm yourself down. Hyperventilating and gripping the steering wheel so hard that your knuckles turn white isn’t helping anyone.
The right way to do the breathing method is to focus on every breath you take, paying attention to each one as it goes in and out of your lungs. This controls your anger and any renegade adrenaline running around in your body. Maintaining an even breathing rhythm can help you ride out those feelings of anger and help you forget all those nasty incidents that happen to you.
2. Start a Carpool
If carpooling is an option for you, it is an excellent stress-buster. You can take turns driving every day with your partner, and the one that doesn’t have to drive can relax, read or even work on a power point presentation for work.
It also provides you with some much needed company and automatically cuts down the stress of your commute in half. You not only find relief for potential road rage opportunities, but you contribute to keeping the environment clean by carpooling.
Some cities give you incentives for carpooling and you save gas money doing it, too. Saving money is one of the best stress relief therapies there is.
You and your driving buddy can compare idiot driver notes at the end of the week, too. Stories like: Remember that lady talking on her cell phone who drove her SUV down the entire length of that sixteen wheeler? Yeah. She never even dropped her phone when she finished going down the side, even though the metal just screeched! I’ll bet she had a time explaining that to her husband!
3. Try “Counting Idiots” Technique
You can play the Counting Idiots game during the road trip. It’s a variation of comparing idiot driver notes, and it’s a very effective tool in stopping road rage. Here’s how you do it:
1. Realize you are a good defensive driver, but accept the fact that not everyone else is.
2. Remind yourself of the hard truth of #1, and realize that there are some idiots out there.
3.Keep a tally of all the idiots you encounter on your commute.
4. Assign a number to all the idiots on your commute (oh look, SUV lady is idiot #4!).
5. Once you have assigned a number to the idiot driver, just ignore them and concentrate on the road ahead, an audio book or your passenger, for instance.
4. Learn Another Language
Audio books and music can be relaxing to pop in your CD player, but don’t have that interaction that foreign language audio tracks do. Listening and learning a foreign language while you drive can take your mind off the frustration of the commute, but still allows you to stay focused while you drive. It keeps your brain active and fresh, too.
Try to keep the radio turned off for news stories and commercials unless you are listening for traffic updates. Who wants to hear another story about how the commute makes your arteries harden, or listen to those irritating commercials and jingles while you drive, anyway?
5. Get Creative
A big part of the stress when commuting is knowing you have to be at work, but can’t get there because of heavy traffic. Traffic can be very unpredictable, so make sure you plan for it the best you can. Get lots of rest, and leave for work in plenty of time to get there.
Anticipate delays, especially during bad weather. For instance, the traffic is a mess when it rains, so make sure you leave earlier when it happens. Talk to your boss about possibly working different hours.
If you know the commute is bad at 8:30 am, then ask if you can come in early and leave early to avoid those times. If you work at a job where telecommuting might be a possibility, talk to them about that, as well. Even if you can do it 1-2 days a week it helps.
6. Stay in Control
Never let someone you don’t know and most likely will never see again control your mood and the situation. Be determined to stay positive about the morning and say to yourself that you are going to have a good day, and no one else is going to tell you what kind of mood you’re going to be in before the day even gets started.
If someone does something unsafe or you feel like you’re losing control, pull over to a safe place. Safety is a number one concern, and if you are completely stressed out it may affect your driving.
You can avoid road rage by following these suggestions:
• Never cut off other drivers when driving.
• Don’t dawdle (drive slowly) in the left or fast lane.
• Never tailgate.
• Avoid making gestures to fellow drivers, especially rude gestures.
• Only use your horn for emergencies.
The following actions can lead you to get involved in a potentially fatal accident, so make sure you follow these guidelines recommended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to avoid any trouble: 1) avoid looking angry drivers in the eye and 2) make sure you give an angry driver lots of space.
Once you’ve followed all the suggestions here and let go of your frustrations when driving, it usually becomes easy to not get angry toward others that do goofy things when they are driving. Don’t let someone’s act of anger control you or interfere with the great day that you intend to keep having and maintain all day.
Keep a Zen frame of mind while you drive and road rage will become a thing of the past!