Have you ever noticed yourself getting angry while you’re driving? Have you ever done something that’s out of character as you know yourself, because you became frustrated by road conditions, another driver, or what you perceived to be a lack of fairness?
If so, you’ve experienced aggressive driving firsthand.
Practical Ways to Avoid Aggressive Driving
According to DKB Lawyers, “Someone who is driving aggressively might be speeding, changing lanes suddenly and without warning, following too closely, failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, not using a turn signal, exhibiting road rage, cutting off a driver and then reducing speed or slamming on the brakes, and a number of other unnecessary and unsafe driving practices.”
It’s common to use the terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” interchangeably. Certainly, there are some differences in nuance between the two, but we’ll lump them in the same category for the purposes of this piece.
Regardless of what causes aggressive driving, it’s a behavior that should be controlled. Here are some suggestions.
1. Have an Open Mind
Aggressive drivers tend to be set off by small, petty issues such as another driver cutting them off in traffic or failing to use a blinker, or operating their motor vehicle while distracted.
When something like this happens to you, your temptation is to take it personally. Why would they cut ME off? But these situations are rarely, if ever, about you.
Preserve an open mind and acknowledge the fact that you’ve almost certainly done the same thing to other people, perhaps without realizing it. This could add some clarity to the situation and keep you from taking it personally.
2. Leave On Time
You’re far more likely to be involved in aggressive driving behavior if you’re running late to your destination. Thus, if you want to reduce your chances of feeling stressed and agitated, you should give yourself plenty of time to get wherever you’re going.
If it typically takes you 15 minutes to arrive at a particular destination, try leaving 20 or 25 minutes early. The worst that will happen is that you’ll arrive at your destination a few minutes early.
This time can be used to relax, listen to music, read a book, or call a friend. Contrast this with giving yourself 10 minutes to arrive and feeling like you have to speed, change lanes, and tailgate the drivers in front of you.
3. Don’t Force the Issue
Nothing makes other drivers angrier than when you force the issue and cut them off, run a yellow light at the last second, tailgate vehicles, slam on your brakes, or fail to signal a lane change. And though there are times when you may feel you have to make a last-second judgment call, you can trust that such situations are few and far between.
Most of the time, you can prevent aggressive driving behavior by not forcing the issue. At the end of the day, what do you gain by pulling out in front of another vehicle? Maybe 10 seconds?
If you’re being honest with yourself, it doesn’t matter if you gain a few seconds. This isn’t a time-trial, in which the driver with the best time gets a cash award. You’re just trying to arrive safely. Prioritize safety above time and you’ll be a much more focused and patient driver.
4. Listen to Music
Research shows that listening to soothing songs while driving may be enough to calm drivers and discourage episodes of road rage from occurring. One study in particular, conducted by a research partnership between Phillips Research Laboratories and Stanford University, found that making a quick switch from upbeat tunes to softer music creates a mellowing effect that lowers stress levels and the heart rate.
Though you don’t want to become so relaxed that you fall asleep behind the wheel, there’s something to be said for listening to music that puts your mind at ease and makes you less likely to exhibit aggressive driving behavior. Make yourself a relaxation playlist if you have to!
Be a Safe Driver and Get Rewarded
Aggressive drivers are more prone to getting involved in a car crash than drivers who practice calm, defensive driving. In addition to avoiding unnecessary confrontation and risk, safe drivers also enjoy rewards in the form of lower insurance premiums.
Practice safe driving and you too could enjoy significant cost savings.