So, is road rage killing you, or will it? Whenever I mention road rage, regardless of the demographic I’m speaking with, a high percentage of the group admits to road rage, even sharing stories and occasionally defending their behavior. Before you think I’m being holier than thou, I also suffer from road rage. Yes, I said suffer because road rage doesn’t help anybody. It’s destructive, dangerous, and unhealthy. Do you suffer from road rage as well? If so, what are we going to do about it?

Own It

The first thing is to admit that we have a problem. You and I must stop defending our poor behavior, blaming others for our lack of emotional control, and recognize that road rage is not the answer.

A common fallacy in thinking is explaining by naming, falsely assuming that by naming a behavior, you’ve explained it. Let’s start by calling road rage what it is – anger, out-of-control, illogical anger. You don’t get road rage; it’s not a virus. You don’t suffer from road rage; you get angry.

As Beverly D. Flaxington shares in Psychology Today, “There’s a big difference between observing reckless vehicular behavior and reacting to it with rage. It’s perfectly normal to be alarmed at poor driving and, hopefully, to respond defensively. But some of us, me included, get furious at times. We honk our horns. We slow down with them on our tailgate to “teach them a lesson,” or we pull up beside them, roll down our windows, and yell.”

Is Road Rage Killing You?

Stop Raging – It’s Your Decision

Once you accept that you’re angry, the next step is to admit that nobody makes you angry. You always have a choice as to how you react in any situation. First, you must admit nobody gave you road rage. If you’re angry, it’s because you choose to be so.

Anger Kills 

Next, take the time to consider how destructive your anger is. Whether you’re driving a 40,000-pound class 8 truck or a Mini Cooper, you’re behind the wheel of a ticking time bomb when you allow anger to take the wheel. Anger behind the wheel kills. Here’s how:

  • Distracted Driving, when you vent toward one event or driver, you’re not focused on the whole.
  • Escalation: There are countless stories of enraged drivers upping the stakes, which can lead to accidents and, in today’s world, gunfire.
  • It’s unhealthy; anger isn’t good for the body or the mind. I’m certain I could find a story of a driver while amid road rage who suffered a heart attack or stroke, but it doesn’t have to be that intense to be damaging to your body and spirit.
  • Anger is tiring. It wears you out and uses up your body’s ability to cope with danger. Tired Driving after uncontrolled rage is almost as dangerous as angry Driving.

How to Stop Raging Behind the Wheel

Be Prepared

You know it’s coming. Traffic jams, accidents, poor road conditions, construction zone delays, and bad drivers who make poor decisions are all waiting for you. So don’t be surprised — be ready. If you know what to expect, you can manage your expectations. Commit to not react angrily to what you know is part of your daily commute.

Drive Defensively

Are you a good driver? Do you drive defensively? If so, it’s impossible to drive defensively and with anger at the same time. Think about it: One cancels the other. Which one do you want to present on the road? So, don’t be the cause of road rage. Don’t tailgate, cut off others, or hog the left lane.

It’s Not About You

When my wife sees me moving toward road rage, she asks me, “What’s the matter? Aren’taren’t the other drivers meeting your expectations?” I thank her for it. Her words give me perspective and remind me not to take it personally. I used to sing a ditty with my two oldest grandchildren when they were in the car with me, and another driver showed poor driver skills or decision-making. It went like this, “You’re a dummy, and you don’t know how to drive, you’re a dummy, and you don’t know how to drive, you’re a dummy, and you don’t know how to drive, I’m amazed you’re still alive.” Yes, it’s silly, but the kids laughed, and the anger disappeared.

Use Good Manners

Where else is discourteous and rude behavior accepted? When someone maneuvers their shopping cart in front of you at the grocery store, is it acceptable to gesture, scream, yell, and curse? What about at a restaurant when another gets their food before you? The answer is it’s not good manners anywhere, and we should especially use good manners behind the wheel when so much is at stake.

Do You Want to Be Happy or Mad?

Is road rage killing you? If so, it’s on you. Would you rather be mean and angry or good and kind? The bottom line is you decide whether it will be rage or kindness. With rage comes a multitude of dangers and with kindness comes the feeling of goodness and cheer. I know. Goodness and cheer may sound corny, like some holiday commercial, but it’s the truth, and it’s up to you. How do you want to be? Do you enjoy working yourself into a rage? Really?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by why kei on Unsplash