To address the suggestions of staying safe while driving, we must dive into the many aspects of what makes being on the road a dangerous place to be, and what we can do about it individually, and also encourage others to do the same.
Simple anxieties can result in road rage. Everyone has anxieties. But it is how you deal with them that makes the difference in your own life and others. Why people give into their frustrations on the road rather than dealing with them appropriately is simply unacceptable behavior. Road rage is a problem and is very common, it could happen to anyone.
What is Road Rage?
It is the simple, but yet very rude hand gestures, such as flipping the bird, swearing, excessive honking, weaving in and out of traffic – known as cutting people off. It is the people that get angry at you for obeying the speed limit. If you don’t like the law, then change it. It is the people who think they can outwit the traffic laws and then get angry at the person who is in the right-of-way, when they are the one who is in the wrong in the first place. It is the person who sees you signaling, but speeds up or slows down so you cannot get into the lane. It is the person that just realized they are going to miss their exit and instead of waiting and getting off at the exit and turning around, they fly across a few lanes to get off. It is the person that decides that the yellow and/or red light is for speeding through.
To get some other ideas on Road Rage, go to RoadRagers.com, there you can view several videos of road rage incidents.
So, lets talk about some suggestions that would be appropriate to deal with the frustrations before you bring them out on the road and potentially hurt yourself and/or others.
I believe the first part in all of this is acknowledging that you have a problem and seeking guidance or help any way possible that may help you alleviate the tension, the stress, frustrations, and anxieties that you may be experiencing. I think often times Road Rage incidents do not necessarily stem from just what is happening on the road, but from what is simply going on in your life. Sometimes we need to make changes in our lives to alleviate the stresses that come out in our driving. We need to remember that our stresses is not someone else’s fault or problem. So besides some of the suggestions that are common that you may have heard about on the news or online, while very good and helpful, you need to get to the root of the problem and learn to deal with your stresses in a different and positive manner. Some things that come to mind off the top of my head, as I am big into natural remedies, would be massage, chiropractic care, acupuncturist, homeopathy remedies, essential oils, hypnotherapy, a therapist, a yoga class or other classes that would promote a sense of well-being, mediation, and relaxation, a support group, perhaps a local support group or one online. Of course, another route would be to confide in your doctor. Getting to the root of the problem of your stresses is a good tool.
Keep in mind that you are responsible for yourself and your actions. You do not have control over other people’s choices, but you can control the way you react to them. Driving is also not a race, no one is in for the win, and even if you think driving fast is fun, it is simply dangerous for yourself and for those around you. It is about getting to your destination safely.
If you have a need for speed in your life, find a place nearby that would soak up the need for speed like a raceway for the public. For instance, in Utah, there is the Miller Motor Sports Park. While many of the activities there are expensive to come by, here are some good deals to be had that are pretty reasonable compared to road rage on the street and having the potential to seriously hurt yourself or others. Another suggestion to get your inner-speed “demon” out would be The Bonneville Salt Flats.
Good planning always makes sense in light of heavy traffic or bad weather. Just because it takes generally 30 minutes to get to your destination, you should always give yourself some extra time for any slow-downs that might occur, such as a roadway incident, car accident, and construction. Plan ahead and look at what the weather might be like the next day, if it could potentially be weather that would cause slow-downs in traffic, then leave earlier in your commute.
Do you want to analyze what type of driver you are? RoadRagers.com has a driving quiz. By using their quiz, it will rate you regarding your safety, aggressiveness, courtesy and potential for road rage.
RoadRagers.com even has a free service that you can report a bad driver.
Cell Phone Usage / Text Messaging
Bluetooth is a great way to communicate to someone, with both hands on your steering wheel. I personally have Bluetooth built into my car, but I rarely use it, and when I do, it is for quick informative calls, such as letting someone else know that I am on my way. No in depth conversation will be going on, as I feel like mine or anyone else in this situaiton, your concentration is much more important to the well-being of anyone that is in the car with you, to the other drivers on the road, to pedestrians. As for incoming calls, it depends on the person that is calling whether I will answer the phone or not, there are obviously different scenarios with different people and that is what it comes down to. If you feel the need to answer your phone and someone is wanting to dive into some in-depth conversation, you can choose to tell them that you are driving and would rather talk to them when you are in a better place to have such a conversation. If you must feel like you need to talk to them about some in-depth conversation right then and there, my suggestion would be to pull over. Do not let your choice of being distracted by this conversation to affect the lives of others.
And where do we even start with text messaging? Why do people even think that it is remotely safe to do this while driving? I see people looking down all the time, swerving in and out of not only their lane, but into others. I see people using their knees to steer their steering wheel and not their hands, because they are busy texting. One second of looking down, looking away, looking elsewhere can be a decision that you will regret forever. I hear some people say “Well, I have done it a thousand times and I have never had a problem with it.” What makes you think you never will? Did you notice how many drivers backed away from you because of your sporadic driving? Did you notice that you were not staying in your lane? Did you notice that you almost hit someone? Just because it has not happened yet, is a poor excuse to keep on text messaging while you should be caring enough about yourself and others around you and be responsible to safe driving. If you feel like it is not for you, then you should not be driving at all. You are not invincible and neither is anyone else around you. Think of your car as a speeding bullet, you have the responsibility to be in control of that car! When you are text messaging you are not in control of the car at all, the text messaging is in control of you.
Check this video out on Texting and Driving Destroys Lives. It may not be your intention to hurt anyone while you are texting, but texting kills, texting is a chain reaction of the hurt that one feels from the loss of someones life. Be responsible!
I know that so many people use caffeine or excessive caffeine as their “safety” measure to stay awake while driving. But just like road rage, my suggestion is to get to the root of the problem. What is it that is making you sleepy? Do something about it, whether it is a medical need or simply a good nights sleep, preferably routinely. Driving under the influence of fatigue is so dangerous! The NCSDR/NHTSA has a great site that has an expert panel on driver fatigue and sleepiness.
If you are drinking a beverage that will help you stay awake, drink it slowly. I have a sister that loves sunflower seeds, this keeps you engaged – if you do not like sunflower seeds, something that might be similar to the seeds or something crunchy. Suck on a tangy fruit, such as a lemon as it keeps the taste buds awake. Open your window, let the cool breeze help you stay awake or turn on your air conditioning to a cool temperature. Make your sitting area uncomfortable, as being too comfortable while being sleepy will just encourage you to fall asleep. Loud music, or music that really is not of your liking.
You may simply have been driving for a long period of time and are sleepy from this. If you do not have another driver to relieve you, stop and get some rest, take a nap, and if you can stop at a motel or hotel and get a good nights rest.
Distraction from Kids
I have two little kids right now and they can sometimes try and distract mom. Whether it be something excited they saw out their window and they really want me to look, or a child who is crying for something they dropped on the floor of the car and want me to pick it up. I have seen parents who reach around their seat while driving and trying to blindly pick up the object their child wants. Or looking back at their child to see what they are saying or talking about. I do not find this appropriate at all, in fact, a good response would be “[child’s name] I cannot look right now, I need to keep my eyes on the road, to keep us safe. You can tell me about what you are seeing.” If your child is crying and you really want to get that object they are crying for, stop on the side of the road. But if you are unable to, wouldn’t you rather hear your child crying than potentially get into a fatal accident? I try to console my child by talking to them, but always keeping my eyes on the road. Sometimes, if consoling does not help, like with tantrums – ignoring the crying as best as you can will sometimes help them to fall asleep or just help them realize that mom is not stopping the car, that mom is not going to reach around the seat to find their toy and they stop crying. You are helping them more by keeping your eyes on the road!
According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) the statistics are as follows: In 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes. Three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives.
If you are going to choose to drink, do it responsibly, do not get drunk. If you do get drunk, let someone else drive your car, give your keys to someone ahead of time, and let your friend or family member drive you home, or take a taxi. Alcohol kills, so in my own opinion why even go there? Why even dangle the with the thought, or the action of drinking when it is detrimental in so many ways. Choose wisely, choose responsibly.
While many of the suggestions are ones you have heard before – they are effective, they are simple and there is no reason why anyone should not be doing every thing they should do to be responsible and caring about yourself and those around you when you get behind the wheel. If someone cannot have in the forefront of their mind the need and responsibility of this, then they have no right to be driving a vehicle. Imagine all the heartache and the lives that you can save by doing these simple suggestions.
My one other suggestion would be to become an advocate of safe driving – be an example, and share it with others, reach out to others and help them realize the need for safety, the need for responsibility when driving a vehicle.