Redirecting your reaction: Road ragers driven mad

There’s nothing worse than abiding the law and being a good driver, only to have some Neanderthal cut you off for no apparent reason. Or when you’ve been waiting, somehow, at the stop sign for two whole rotations and someone comes in last minute and takes your turn.

Road rage. We all do it, and while some of us can contain it but a majority of drivers scream and shout and resort to vulgarity. And for some reason… they feel better. Yelling inside the confines of their own car or attacking their steering wheel because it’s the nearest punching bag relieves a road rager’s fury. But it’s at this very moment that they’ve become a hazard themselves.

I’ve seen road rage manifest itself and hijack a person entirely in a variety of ways. Some of my friends are typical— they scream and shout; some curse at the wind and make insulting gestures; some speed up and stomp on the acceleration; and others decide to exact revenge and cut the person back off. And while these road ragers feel better after they’ve vented, they’re now putting both themself and nearby drivers at risk.

Screaming, shouting and cursing flusters you and you’re no longer able to make rational decisions— you’re no longer in the right state of mind. Driving is an engaging activity— a great driver is distinguished from a terrible driver based on their ability to think on their feet, such as changing lanes, monitoring your surroundings and moving to avoid a collision. This is all impeded because you decide to throw your sanity out the window and rage.

Then there are the ragers who resort to gestures; the ragers that have taken their hand off the wheel and decided to get comeuppance. The accelerators have not only become a speeding danger, but now they’re at risk of a ticket themselves. Those who cut others off only put themselves at a greater risk at getting rear-ended. According to Allstate’s KeepTheDrive, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people ages one through 34… so why do it? Why put yourself and others at risk just for relief of something that you, yourself, can control and react to in a better way?

Road rage isn’t but needs to be contained. How you react to something defines your entire reality; if someone hits you, hitting them back would only escalate things. This is exactly why a peaceful approach is always the successful one. It’s proven time and time again that it works. Plus, why would someone deliberately choose a negative, stressful reaction towards a stimulus as opposed to a happier, more positive and relaxed one?

But if being logical isn’t going to convince a road rager, let’s approach it with emotion in mind. We all make mistakes; that’s the definition of human fallacy. No driver is perfect and sometimes, we make a bad decision. When we make them, there is an obvious sense of remorse but it’s only worse when you have someone else remind you of it. Imagine yourself on the other end. True, while it’s bad luck that you had to be there to be the recipient of bad driving, it doesn’t mean you drive perfectly either. So be friendly, and abide the golden rule.

The next time you’re on the road and someone decides to narrowly cut you off, instead of raging, take a deep breath, react more calmly, and realize that becoming a danger to everyone is not worth the “immediate relief.” Understand that in five minutes, you’ll forget the whole thing ever happened.

For more information, check out Allstate’s KeepTheDrive for things such as teen driving facts and other statistics.