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Road rage: How to steer clear of it

Last updated on: September 15, 2010 13:04 IST
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Try to steer clear of road rage, whether it's others' or your own.

On roads that have more potholes than speed bumps, where farm animals are sitting on the side and people cross randomly, 'road rage' is becoming a commonplace occurrence. Almost everyone has been a victim of road rage at some point in their lives. Open the newspaper and you will find many incidents of this kind making the news every day.

Road rage is defined as aggressive or angry behaviour by the driver of a motor vehicle.

Usually, it is restricted to a fair bit of shouting, abusive words and a few hand gestures. But if things get out of hand, road rage can lead to serious harm -- there have been cases that leave victims badly wounded (mentally and physically).

Driving is a stressful activity. A gruelling commute to work everyday can have a huge negative impact on your wellbeing and raise your stress hormones long before you get to the office. With millions of commuters starting and ending their workdays with 30 to 90 minutes of noise, exhaust fumes and slow-motion frustration daily, the prevalence of road rage has increased considerably in the past decade. Many psychologists even classify it as a mental disorder.

Road rage is caused by a number of incidents. A few of them are elaborated upon below:

Cutting someone off: A driver gets really frustrated when someone cuts him off. This is the most common cause of road rage.

Tailgating: When a person drives a vehicle really close to another's, it's called tailgating. Tailgating is very dangerous as any sudden reaction like abrupt braking can lead to a major accident, especially at high speeds.

Bad drivers: There will always be bad drivers on the road -- the ones that don't care about the law or even others' lives.

There are many other conditions that may also lead to road rage like traffic congestion, rough weather, noise levels, time constraints etc.

Every driver has or will at some point come in contact with another angry, aggressive driver. Road rage is an increasing problem, both in India and around the world. But there are ways in which you can avoid becoming a road rage victim. Here are some useful tips to help you with the same:

Don't offend: Make sure you follow the traffic laws. You should indicate every time you want to change a lane or directions. Do not drive in the last lane very slowly. If someone wants to overtake you, pull over and let him go by.

Be cool: Make sure you don't lose your temper while driving. Set your problems aside when in front of the steering wheel. Also, don't engage in any argumentative conversations with your passengers. Aggressive driving is mostly a result of angry emotions. The car is not a safe place to vent your anger.

Get enough sleep: The main factor that aggravates short tempers is physical exhaustion. Physical exhaustion is a result of not getting enough rest at night. Make sure you get seven to eight hours of sleep daily. Also, try not to drive when you are too tired. In case of very long distances, you'd rather pull over to the side, take a nap and then get back to your driving.

Keep your distance: If you see an aggressive driver tailgating you or flashing his lights at you, let him go by. Don't make any eye contact with such a person, as that may provoke him even more. By not engaging in road rage, you will prevent yourself from getting into a fight. If you lose your cool, just take a deep breath and count till ten.

Make your car a relaxing place: Create a very relaxing environment in your car. Make sure you play some relaxing music rather than loud thumping rock music. Put in a pleasant air freshener with a gentle fragrance.

Don't drive in a time crunch: Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. If you are getting late for work, try and take public transport or let someone else drive you.

Keep your cool, mind your manners and remember to be respectful and kind when driving. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. That is the best remedy for road rage.

Do you have any stories to share about clashes with fellow motorists? Did you lose your cool? What was the outcome of the scrap and what did you learn from it? Share your experiences with us! Write in to (subject line: 'Road rage') along with your photograph, if possible and we'll publish the most interesting entries right here.

Photograph: Yann/Wiki Commons


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