A recent AAA Foundation study found aggressive driving played a role in more than 50 percent of all fatal crashes. The next time someone cuts you off or blasts his horn at you, resist the urge to respond with the one-finger salute. Learning how to overcome road rage could save your life.
Relax on the road
Most people don’t leave the house with the intention of jumping on the hood of a BMW or exchanging blows with another motorist, but it happens more often than you’d think. Multiple studies show incidences of road rage are on the rise (especially among women). So what can you do? Take responsibility for your actions and don’t let unchecked anger lead to an unsafe situation.
“The best way to deal with road rage is to avert the danger that has not yet come,” says Transcendental Meditation (TM) instructor Jeanne Ball. This is done, she says, by dissolving stress that has built up in the nervous system before it gets triggered while driving. “Accumulated tension, stress and anxiety can be a time bomb waiting to explode. Get to the root of the problem and eliminate the stress through any approach proven to effectively dissolve stress, such as the Transcendental Meditation technique.” Clinical studies have shown that the TM technique decreases stress hormones and reduces anxiety and hypertension. “Nowadays, even soldiers are using it to remain levelheaded under the pressures of combat. When you leave your house cool, calm and collected, you can more gracefully handle the frustration of traffic jams and careless drivers.”
If your emotions lead to a hot head while driving, aromatherapy may help you cool off. Ball recommends placing essential oils in a car diffuser as an effective way to keep road rage at bay. “Oils such as lavender, rose and ylang-ylang are known to pass through the blood–brain barrier quickly and can calm the emotions.”
Change your mindset
The AAA Foundation brochure “Road Rage: How to Handle Aggressive Driving” recommends three specific mental adjustments to avoid aggressive driving:
- Forget winning
- Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes
- Ask for help, if needed
You’ll be a safer, less angry driver when you stop trying to beat the clock and don’t let yourself get aggravated by every red light or driver who slows you down. When another driver pushes your buttons with aggressive behavior, don’t take it personally. Not seeing results from self-soothing techniques? Make your health and safety a priority by taking a meditation or anger-management course to learn how to better cope with emotional triggers.
If you or someone you know suffers from road rage, check out the book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare, available at Amazon.com.