How many times have you been on the road and suddenly lost your cool? Maybe it was a bad driver who cut you off, or perhaps it was the taxi next you who almost forced you off the road while driving straight from the turning only lane. Whatever the situation may be, road rage can lead to dangerous accidents and property damage, so avoiding it can certainly keep you and your loved ones safer. In this article, we’ll go over ways to manage your emotions when you’re behind the wheel, ways to avoid becoming the victim of road rage, and what to do if someone becomes aggressive with you.



What is Road Rage?

Angry drivers speeding down highways and cutting you off, tailgating your car, honking their horns...the definition of road rage is hard to pin down. In fact, it varies from person to person; what bothers one driver may not even register with another. While some describe road rage as anything that occurs when they are behind a wheel, others draw a clear line between aggressive driving and road rage; after all, aggressive driving doesn’t necessarily involve another human being. As far as I’m concerned though, there isn’t much of a difference – your behaviour behind the steering wheel affects other drivers either way. Here are several things you can do to keep your cool on the road.



Don’t become a Road Rager

You’re driving along, minding your own business. Suddenly, someone cuts you off—or worse, swerves into your lane. You feel a flash of rage. Do not let your anger take over; just remember these road-rage survival tips so you can calm down and avoid making a bad situation worse.


  • Do not make a scene or engage with other drivers. Not only is it dangerous, but you’ll also likely be found at fault if there’s an accident. So no yelling, gesturing, honking or other physical acts of frustration. This way you can stay safe and save yourself from having any legal troubles.



  • Take a deep breath. This simple act can calm you down in a second and help you regain your focus on driving safely. Take two or three deep breaths, allowing yourself to exhale slowly each time. You can also try counting backwards from 10 to clear your mind and stay centered behind the wheel.


  • When you get into your car, try forget your work or home worries. Play some music as this is shown to reduce stress. Anticipating ahead will also lessen you’re your reaction when the inevitable happens! When you see a Quantum in your rearview mirror, anticipate that it will soon cut you off, drive down the emergency lane of the highway to avoid waiting in traffic, skip the robots altogether, and then, to add insult to injuries, come to a sudden, dead stop in front of you. When it happens, as expected, you will laugh at how predictable they are, rather than feel your blood boiling.


  • Remember that it’s not personal. When another driver does something stupid or dangerous in traffic, they are not trying to be personally offensive, or to upset you. Almost a hundred percent of the time, they don’t even know you. When they cut you off, it’s not a declaration of war between them against you, they just poor drivers and you just happen to be there.




Don’t become a victim of Road Rage

If you find yourself in a situation where another driver is clearly trying to start an altercation, be sure to stay calm. Making sudden movements—such as slamming your brakes, honking your horn or swearing at them—can escalate a minor situation into a full-blown brawl. Additionally, engaging with someone angry and upset can place you in danger. Instead of escalating, keep your distance and slowly get out of harm's way. Remember, you don't have any control over another person's actions; if someone decides they want to act aggressively, it may not matter what you do or say. All that matters is making sure you get home safely.


When dealing with someone who's trying to provoke an altercation, your best bet is simply not responding. Doing so can help you get out of harm's way before they resort to violent measures.


Arrive Alive suggest the following tips when you are faced with aggressive behaviour:

  • Stay calm.
  • Avoid eye contact with the aggressive driver so as not to exacerbate the situation.
  • Do not respond to provocative words or actions.
  • Do not respond to disrespectful words or actions.
  • Do what you can to avoid conflict.


However, if you feel as though you must respond and de-escalate a potentially dangerous situation, it's important to be polite. You don't have control over another person's actions, but you do have control over your behaviour. It’s not about being right or wrong. Even if they were the ones in the wrong, it's better for everyone involved if you simply remove yourself from harm's way.


If an aggressive person leaves his vehicle and heads toward you, Arrive Alive suggest the following:

  • Remain in your vehicle, make sure the windows are shut and doors locked.
  • Avoid arguing with the aggressive driver, looking at the person or making provocative gestures.
  • Leave the area and go to a place where you can get help.
  • Do not go home if the aggressive driver is following you.
  • If you’re in traffic and can’t drive away, pick up your cellphone and show the person you are calling the Police
  • If the person doesn’t back off, honk your horn to attract the attention of other drivers.
  • Note the make of the other driver’s car and his or her license plate.




Avoid Being a Victim of Road Rage

Road rage is an epidemic in South Africa. It's become such a serious problem that many people have lost their lives over an incident of road rage. This is particularly sad, in that  it can often be avoided. To keep yourself safe, you need to work on yourself and your personality to avoid aggressive driving and as well as becoming a victim of road rage.


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