We are all familiar with the term Road Rage and unfortunately the incidences of road rage seem to be all too common these days. Road Rage occurs when two or more drivers have a disagreement on the road, with one driver usually not happy with how the other person is driving.
This frustration and anger can be expressed in a number of ways such as yelling abuse, tailgating, changing lanes erratically and on the extreme end, even physical abuse. We have all seen horrifying footage on the news of people being physically attacked by another driver who couldn’t control their rage.
Besides the obvious tragic consequences of road rage such as car accidents and violence that can lead to permanent physical injuries and even death, there are other health issues that can occur as a result of road rage and aggressive driving.
A study was conducted by the RACQ which found that road rage and being an aggressive driver could have serious long term health implications and potentially cut your life short. When you become angry, the body’s ‘fight or flight response’ is activated, which is the body’s reaction to stressful situations
When this response is triggered the body releases more of the hormones, adrenal and cortisol into the bloodstream which increases the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. When the fight or flight response is triggered too often due to anger this can result in detrimental health effects including heart disease, stroke, ulcers, weakened immune system, anxiety and depression.
If you or someone you know has a problem with road rage then implementing the following options of how to avoid road rage could be the start to change this destructive behaviour.
1. Take Care Of Yourself
Sleep relaxes the body and replenishes it physically, mentally and emotionally. Therefore not getting enough sleep often results in a bad mood, irritability and a short fuse. The sleep foundation reports that lack of sleep makes us “feel more upset, angry and sad in response to unpleasant events” which can contribute to aggressive and angry feelings on the road. Likewise, hunger can also trigger mood swings and irritability so ensure you are eating proper healthy meals and carrying snacks in the car can also help.
2. Leave Earlier
If you’re running late for work or an important meeting then every other car is going to seem like they are moving at a snail’s pace and get your temper boiling. When in this frame of mind even the smallest mistake or action that you don’t agree with from another driver is more likely to trigger an irrational response from you. If you need to be somewhere at at a set time try leaving earlier so hold ups and traffic congestion don’t seem like the end of the world.
3. Alter Your Thinking
Usually when another driver makes a silly sudden move or isn’t driving to your standards, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and just assume they’re hopeless drivers and shouldn’t be on the road, which can very easily fuel the anger for a road rage incident. It would help a great deal if we try to remember that other drivers aren’t generally on the road to endanger themselves or others and sometimes other things might be going on to explain their less than perfect driving. They could be from out of town, have a screaming toddler in the backseat or just having a bad day. If their driving is endangering lives then pull over and call the police for assistance.
4. Practise Mindfulness
Mindfulness involves accepting whatever is happening in the present moment without judgement. This will help you to become aware of your thought and behaviour patterns, allowing you to recognise when anger is building and apply appropriate techniques to calm yourself down such as deep breathing or pulling over safely until the situation has passed.
5. Seek Help
If you find that your anger is disproportionate to the situation at hand and you are endangering other people’s lives and your own with road rage then it’s crucial that you go and see a professional therapist for help. Intense anger like this is detrimental to your health physically, mentally and emotionally and can be life threatening to those around you.