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
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.