If you spend any significant time in Orlando traffic, you know how easy
it is to get frustrated. You can get angry about the speed you are forced
to inch along at, other drivers who cut you off and even police who have
the nerve to pull someone over on the shoulder of the road at rush hour.
Unfortunately, being frustrated can easily lead to aggressive driving -
and the risk of a
car accident. In fact, aggressive driving behaviors actually are a factor in 56 percent
of all fatal crashes, according to the
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
Aggressive driving is not the same as road rage. Road rage involves violence,
or anger directed specifically to harm another person. Aggressive driving,
on the other hand, is reckless driving behavior that can put everyone
on the road at a greater risk of being involved in an accident.
Any of the following could constitute aggressive driving:
- Running red lights
- Cursing or gesturing to other drivers
- Cutting off other drivers
- Driving slowly in the passing lane to control traffic
- Honking your horn incessantly.
All of these behaviors can cause an accident. All of them are entirely
Here are seven ways to keep your calm in traffic:
Plan ahead. Plan your route before you leave your home or office. Check online for
any traffic congestion and consider another route if it looks like there
will be an issue. If there is no alternate route, knowing you will be
delayed can at least lessen the frustration associated with running behind schedule.
Leave early. When possible, give yourself more than enough time to reach your destination.
If you are stuck in traffic with only a few minutes to get to work, you
are far more likely to make risky driving decisions.
Get plenty of sleep. As
Edmonds reports, a National Sleep Foundation study found that failing to get enough rest
can increase your risk of acting aggressively behind the wheel.
Lose the sense of driving as a competition. You can't "win" at driving. Getting in front of another vehicle
or beating someone to a red light won't improve your life, and it
likely won't help you get to your destination any sooner. Winning
is getting to your destination in one piece. So, stop trying to compete
with other drivers.
Adopt some empathy. Put yourself in the other drivers' shoes. Maybe they didn't realize
their lane was ending - give them the opportunity to get over into your
lane. Perhaps they had a tough day - give them plenty of space. Never
take other drivers' behaviors as a personal affront.
Breathe and relax. If you notice yourself getting frustrated, keep it in check. Breathe deeply
and consciously make an effort to relax. If you can't shake it, pull
off into a parking lot and stretch or take some time to walk around.
Don't use your car to blow off steam. When life gets hectic, some people use their vehicle as a way to not only
transport them physically but mentally as well. While driving can be an
enjoyable experience, seeing your car as your "therapist" can
also be dangerous.
Get help. If you struggle with your temper and with aggressive driving, perhaps
it is time to talk with a mental health professional. There is no shame
in asking for help with anger management.
Follow these tips, and hopefully, you can avoid aggressive (and accident
risks) the next time you encounter a frustrating moment in traffic.