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Controlling Your Anger on the Roads

bigstock-132908582No one likes bad drivers, especially those who don’t know how to use a turn single. For many, frustration turns into anger that’s hard to handle on the road.

Friends and relatives feel uneasy and unsafe riding in the car while with an angry driver, especially when behavior escalates. Muttering under your breath becomes cursing and flipping your middle finger.

Instead of words or gestures, road rage leads to aggressive driving.

Aggressive driving confrontations may unfortunately escalate to incidents of aggressive — or even deadly — attacks, and anyone can be the victim. Children, parents, school teachers, even celebrities — accounts of road rage fill the headlines daily and the victims span the spectrum.

Of course, you can’t always control the acts of others. However, it’s important to monitor your own behavior.

If you find yourself becoming frustrated by other drivers, it’s time to take a deep breath. Redirect your anger. Consider these tips for controlling your anger on the road.

Don’t Make It Personal

You never know what someone else is going through when they get into the car. Someone else’s bad driving is affecting your safety, but so are you, by giving into anger and letting it distract you. Taking your hand off the wheel to gesture at a bad driver could cause you to swerve or worse.

Reminding yourself of this reality helps you to stay calm. Do not make another driver’s problem your problem, only to create dangerous conditions on the road. The adage “not my monkeys, not my circus” is a funny way to remind yourself. Choose your response.

Practice Defensive Driving

Don’t practice aggressive driving. Practice defensive driving as a practical way to deal with frustration and anger on the road when a bad driver gets the best of your emotions.

Take a defensive driving course through a local driving school to hone your skills. The key is to take a course that emphasizes the awareness of risk to avoid emergency situations. Crash avoidance techniques like evasive steering increase your confidence on the road but should not give you overconfidence to take unnecessary risks on the road. Drive defensively to save lives and your state of mind.

Remember, road rage can quickly become deadly. There are some 250 fatalities every year linked to aggressive driving, and 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. Thirty-seven percent of aggressive driving incidents are linked to a firearm.

Positive Affirmations and Visualization Redirect Anger

It may sound like a bunch of hocus pocus, but there is something to choosing a positive perspective, positive words and seeing the situation in a different light. Visualizing the worst-case scenario provides you the opportunity to consider the actions you would take to alter it, so that you practice another option in real life.

These tools help you to consider alternatives to anger as your first response. Affirmations and visualization give you mental self-efficacy, evoking your confidence, strength and positivity when presented with stress. Simply reminding yourself that you are calm verbally and envisioning a memory that reinforces that will do wonders for your state of mind in the moment.

Get Active to Channel Your Anger

Exercise helps the brain cope better with stress factors, because physical activity generates endorphins. When your body feels good, so does your mind. Exercise will reduce fatigue and also boost your concentration and alertness.

Getting exercise enables you do something physical with your anger, which is a very aggressive and active emotion. Ever notice how anger feels so immediate and needs to go somewhere? Channel it into physical activity.

Anger may quickly get out of hand on the road. Try not to take bad driving personally. Practice visualization and other mindfulness techniques, which allow you to see the situation and your emotions from a different perspective.

Don’t let road rage turn deadly. Consider an anger management course or working with a psychologist if your road rage exceeds your ability to implement these tips. How do you deal with anger when on the road?

References:

O’Grady, P., Ph.D. (2013, March 24). Visualize the Good and the Bad. Retrieved on October 06, 2016 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positive-psychology-in-the-classroom/201303/visualize-the-good-and-the-bad.

Physical Activity Reduces Stress (n.d.). Retrieved on October 06, 2016 from https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st.

Putting the Brakes on Road Rage. (2016, September 19). Retrieved October 06, 2016 from http://www.cjponyparts.com/resources/stop-road-rage-infographic.

Wren, E. (n.d.). Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations. Retrieved from http://otta.ca/userContent/documents/IRF-DBET-SC-Endorsement-Driver-Training-11-07-2013.pdf.

Controlling Your Anger on the Roads


Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks. Passionate about living a healthy, happy life, Sarah enjoys sharing advice on psychology-related matters. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more great tips.


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APA Reference
Landrum, S. (2018). Controlling Your Anger on the Roads. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/controlling-your-anger-on-the-roads/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.