What Does Road Rage Accomplish? Tips on Staying Level-Headed in Traffic

California has been labeled as having some of the most congested roadways in the United States. With congested roadways and long commute times, frustration and anxiety are as common as a morning cup of coffee. But where is the line between defensive driving and aggressive driving, or road rage?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road rage is more than just typical commuter frustration. Road rage is defined as involving “a criminal act of violence, whereas aggressive driving can range from tailgating to speeding to running red lights”.

To avoid taking that step from aggressive to criminal, consider these tips for staying level-headed in traffic.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Fatigue and crankiness are two contributing factors to road rage, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  • Don’t use your car for therapy. Many of us connect with our cars, and those of us who commute in gridlock feel as if our car is an extension of us. If you are frustrated or angry, be mindful not to use your car as a mobile therapist.
  • Plan ahead before driving. Avoid feelings of anxiety and pressure by planning ahead and allowing yourself an extra 10 minutes to get where you need to go. Allow more time if you need to fuel up or run errands first.
  • Learn to relax. Being stuck in traffic is not a lot of fun, but it doesn’t have to end in road rage or handcuffs. Learn to relax by listening to music, meditating (eyes open please), or doing breathing exercises. Flex your hands and feet as appropriate and safe to keep your muscles loose.

No one likes gridlock, and it is easy be upset when someone pushes your buttons by cutting you off or being rude. However, road rage really accomplishes nothing other than possibly resulting in a day in court as you explain your actions to a judge. Most likely, the defense that the driver in front of you not using a blinker caused a mental breakdown is probably not going to work.