MANAGING EMOTIONS IS KEY TO STAYING SAFE ON THE ROAD

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Road rage and aggressive driving are a major problem in South Africa, particularly in urban metropolitan areas where traffic congestion and time urgency contribute to increased levels of frustration among drivers.

“South Africans are notoriously aggressive drivers and although no official statistics of road rage incidents exist, anecdotal evidence suggests that the incidence of road rage is on the rise and that it is a serious threat to our safety on the road,” says Dial Direct Insurance spokesperson, John October.

October says that there are a number of reasons for rage on the road and that people who are prone to aggressive outbursts are more likely to direct their anger at total strangers. However, he points out that even the most laid-back person can be led to take their frustration out on other drivers after a long and stressful day at work.

“Road rage is really just the release of pent up anger which very often has little to do with driving or traffic. If a person is already at boiling point after an argument with their boss, for example, someone unintentionally cutting them off in the traffic can be all it takes to push them over the edge,” says October.

With this in mind, October says that the onus is on motorists to manage their emotions better while driving. This means being courteous towards other drivers by, for instance, waving thank-you to those who let you into a queue and giving way if it means avoiding a confrontation.

“The trick is not to personalise someone else’s aggression towards you. If someone waves their fists and hoots at you, spitting obscenities at them through your window is hardly going to diffuse the situation. In fact, this kind of behaviour can trigger a road rage incident,” advises October.

Don’t let road rage happen to you

 

    • Get enough sleep: Eight hours of sleep can do wonders for alleviating feelings of annoyance and anger.

       

 

    • Plan properly: If you are the type of person who allows just enough time to drive to an appointment, you might be more prone to temper and speeding. Adding 10 minutes to your expected journey time means being able to negotiate road works or other unexpected delays, without worrying about being late, and a calmer drive.

       

 

    • Change the radio channel: Listen to music that relaxes you, rather than hypes you up. Or, use the time to listen to an audiobook of that that novel you’ve been meaning to read for months.

       

 

    • Do relaxation exercises when driving: Flex your fingers and loosen your hold on the steering wheel. When taking a long trip, make sure you get out and stretch your legs every two hours.

       

 

  • Do not take bad behaviour personally: When encountering another motorist’s undesirable driving behaviour, remember that it has nothing to do with you. It is far more likely that that driver was distracted by something in his/her own car, and the ensuing behaviour was not meant to deliberately irk you.

     

Finally, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I regularly exceed the speed limit to get to work on time?

2. Do I drive too close to other drivers?

3. Do I flash my lights and hoot to let drivers know when they annoy me?

4. Do I verbally abuse other drivers whether they can hear me or not?

5. Do I frequently weave in and out of traffic to get ahead?

6. Do I feel the need to set bad drivers straight?

A ‘yes’ answer to any of these six questions means your driving may be considered to be aggressive. However, by following the abovementioned steps, this type of behaviour can be corrected and minimised.

“The reality of city driving means that we are all likely to lose our tempers at some point. However, by planning ahead and keeping things in perspective, we can prevent our emotions from getting the better of us,” October concludes.

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