Even the most docile of people seem to experience fits of rage on the roadway. And who can blame them? As a commuter, you know that other drivers are what come between you and arriving to your destination in a timely matter – at least to an extent. Even when you’re not in a hurry, they seem to exist only to make your commute miserable. But allowing road rage to get the best of you won’t solve your problems. A few changes in your behavior will do wonders toward improving your mood. If you dread embarking on your daily journey because of the unpleasantness you experience on the road, read through the 10 ways to alleviate road rage and turn a new leaf.
- Watch the traffic report
In your haste to get out of bed and into your car, you may neglect the preparation that would make your commute less stressful. Watch your local traffic report or check it online, and if your route is occupied by traffic, find an alternate route on which you won’t get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It’s better to spend 30 seconds researching each morning or afternoon than 30 extra minutes in traffic.
- Explore alternate routes
If your normal route is too congested, consider taking an alternate route. Even if it doesn’t shorten your commute, you may benefit from the change in your routine. By taking side streets, you’ll stay busy driving while experiencing new scenery. You’ll remain focused on what you’re doing and not the little inconveniences that make your day more difficult.
- Adjust your work hours
If your workplace is lenient about your work hours, avoid the 9-to-5 schedule in which everybody else in your town works and try a 10-to-6 routine. Or if you’re a morning person, arrive before eight. According to a survey from INRIX in 2008, the worst traffic day is Friday, the worst weekday commute is Friday evening, the worst commuting hour is Friday at 5 to 6 p.m. and the worst morning commute is on Wednesday. Daily adjustments can be made to accommodate the particularly bad times.
- Manage your time
Waking up an hour before work when you have an hour commute? Perhaps the snooze button is equally responsible for your morning rush as rush hour traffic. Don’t work yourself into a tizzy by allotting too few minutes for your daily routine. When driving to work, always allow yourself the average time of your commute plus several extra minutes just in case. A more relaxed and road rage-free commute will enhance your day immeasurably.
- Value your sleep
Bad driving and crankiness can be direct results of sleepiness. Numerous surveys undertaken in the past have indicated that sleep deprivation has caused tens of thousands of accidents each year. So when someone carelessly veers into your lane, keep in mind they’re also tired. There’s no need to overreact because of one mistake – crankiness can be conquered with rest and a little bit of empathy.
- Do unto others
Allow the car ahead of you to merge. Don’t tailgate. Don’t cut people off or weave in and out of traffic. If other drivers abided by those rules, your commute would be more pleasant. So why not do your part to reduce the problem? Behave as if you’re dealing with people in a grocery store, shopping mall or restaurant, and treat them with respect. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and eat your slice of humble pie (not literally).
Multitasking is a big no-no when driving not only because it’s a safety risk, but also because it’s a source of frustration. Annoyances like rambunctious and fussy children, spilled food, and incessant incoming calls negatively affect your mood. Find something to occupy the time of your children and eat at home. And don’t text or talk on the phone until you’ve arrived at your destination.
- Expect the unexpected
In other words, drive defensively. Don’t be caught off-guard by other people’s erratic driving – it’s a given. According to the National Safety Council, almost 70 percent of car accidents are a result of driver error. In order to avoid a collision or the anger that comes with being put in danger by other drivers, remain alert to your surroundings on the road, and react to the car and not the driver.
- Establish a comfortable environment
Make sure your seat is in the most comfortable position. Adjust your mirrors so that you don’t have to strain to see what’s behind or to the side of your car. Listen to your favorite tunes. Adjust the air conditioner or heater to a pleasant temperature. Sip on your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. If you’re on a long trip, open the windows, breathe in the fresh air and allow for the wind to comb through your hair. Practice healthy breathing techniques. When you’re in a good mood, you’ll be less likely to fly off the handle.
- Maintain your vehicle
The poor performance of your vehicle may also be feeding your frustration. For example, if you can’t accelerate to the speed of traffic when merging onto the freeway, your car’s transmission may be deteriorating. It’s never fun to be the car that everyone else is dodging. Problems inside your car, like a weak air conditioner, may also be causing you to be more irritable. Keep your car in tip-top shape and your commute will be easier.