When it comes to the driving habits of Canadians, research shows that the way we drive and the way we think we drive is inconsistent to say the least. According to a survey by InsuranceHotline.com, 95 per cent of Canadian drivers admit to occasionally having aggressive and road rage-like tendencies while driving, while 94 per cent of the same group said they consider themselves courteous drivers. So, why the discrepancy? Our inability to accurately gauge our driving habits isn’t because Canadians like to fib, it’s a classic example of cognitive dissonance — a psychological term that refers to the mental discomfort experienced when a person holds two conflicting beliefs.
If you’ve spent enough time behind the wheel, you’ve probably experienced road rage to some degree at one point or another. Some common signs of road rage are:
- Making aggressive gestures at other drivers
- Not allowing another car to pass
- Yelling at or criticizing other drivers
- Getting out of the car to confront another driver
- Frequent use of the horn
The good news is, you can learn to identify and curb the urge to act when the temptation takes hold with these tips for managing road rage.
Heavy traffic can heighten stress and frustration on the road, especially when you’re already running late. Giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination will help alleviate some of the psychological and environmental factors that cause road rage. Know when traffic is typically heavy in your area and plan your route and departure time accordingly.
Don’t drive tired (or angry!)
Sometimes road rage starts before you even get behind the wheel. Lack of sleep can cause irritability that can escalate on the road. If you’re already angry or feeling anxious, take a few minutes to defuse and collect yourself before driving. Our tips on Overcoming Driving Anxiety will help you leave your worries at home and be a more present driver.
Choose your music wisely
What you listen to while driving can have a subtle but perceptible effect on your mood. Instead of listening to aggressive music, choose something calming or listen to an audiobook or podcast to get you in a good head space.
Model defensive driving
You can’t control other drivers, but you can make sure you don’t give them a reason to get upset. According to The Car Guide, 30 per cent of road rage incidents that get physical start with tailgating and cutting traffic. Driving the speed limit, using your signals, staying in the right lane unless passing and practicing other defensive driving habits will go a long way in increasing your safety and reducing altercations on the road.
Tips for dealing with angry drivers
Admit your errors
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. If you accidentally cut someone off, simply apologize with a friendly gesture of acknowledgement and move on.
If another driver is acting aggressively towards you, don’t respond. Stay calm, avoid making eye contact and try to increase the distance between you by slowing down or changing lanes.
Call in help
If an aggressive driver won’t back off and is causing immediate danger to you or others, pull over where it’s safe, lock your doors and call 9-1-1. If there is a police station nearby that you know of, drive there directly.