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Avoid encountering—or becoming!—a road rager

Take some simple precautions to avoid road ragers—and to avoid becoming one yourself!

First thing: This is paramount to being a safe driver. Check your mood before you get behind the wheel. If you’re feeling anxious for any reason before you set out on the road, driving isn’t going to help. So before getting into a situation that may heighten stress, do find a way to relax. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks. Or just resolve the situation that was initially stressing you out.

avoid checking texts as they might create anxiety and lead to road rage

You already know that avoiding phone calls or reading texts while behind the wheel is beneficial for avoiding the potential dangers of distracted driving. But it also helps avoid introducing any potential triggers that could cause road rage. So do your part and put your phone away and on silent. It definitely can wait.

Sometimes situations on the road are beyond your control. You never know when something unforeseen could stir up the Hulk in you. If that happens, there are several things you can do to immediately diffuse the anxiety. Pulling over would be best! But if you’re stuck on a freeway somewhere, try putting on some soothing music and visualizing yourself getting safely to your destination. That will make the goal clearer and will remind you that this too shall pass. I’m a bigtime proponent of multitasking, and I recently found that listening to audio books behind the wheel makes the drive a real treat no matter how slow the drive is.

Even if you learn from the best defensive driving school and follow all of these tips, there’s still the matter of other people on the road, people you can’t predict or control.

Unlike you, they want to cause harm, like this man in Venice Beach who injured a dozen people this week, or they just don’t regard life very highly. To avoid these drivers, the AAA Foundation has sent out the following recommendations:

If you see someone road raging, don’t go on the offense. Instead, do everything you can to avoid them and defend yourself. If they insist on their right of way, or simply must  change lanes in front of you, just let them pass. A road rager is predisposed to being irked, so don’t give them a reason to target you. Avoid going slowly in the left lane — if you’re being tailgated or harassed by honking, let the rager pass and avoid eye contact.

road rager

Remember that your life is worth more than teaching someone a lesson (which they probably won’t retain anyway). So even if you have the right of way and the rager is unfairly bullying you, do what you can to let it go and call a police station to report the driver.

Have you ever been cut off by a road rager? How did you handle it?

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