9th Dec, 2019
It’s no secret that winter can be a stressful time on the roads. Rougher conditions like snow, rain or ice means that road surfaces get more dangerous, agitating drivers and increasing the danger of a collision which could cause you to prematurely scrap your car. Then there’s the Christmas commute itself – when everyone is heading back home to spend the festive season with family, the roads become jam-packed, which inevitably leads to traffic jams, delays, and even instances of road rage.
In fact, about 80% of motorists say that they’ve experienced road rage, either by being on the receiving end, or getting angry themselves. Below, we go into a bit more detail about the problem, and what you can do to avoid it this Christmas.
A lot of research has been done into road rage over the years, and these studies have identified three main triggers of road rage. This includes: impeding progress, reckless driving, and direct hostility from other drivers. Now, in pedestrian areas most of these aren’t such a major problem. It usually only takes a few seconds to circumnavigate a slow walker, and no one was ever jailed for reckless walking in a busy high street. When you add cars into the mix, though, it all becomes a lot more dangerous. When steering a two-tonne hunk of metal at speeds naturally unattainable by humans, recklessness becomes a much bigger issue.
What’s more, when we’re in our cars we’re unable to be quite as expressive as normal. You can’t voice your frustrations quite as loudly or articulately as you’d be able to on foot, so we resort to sounding our horns, using abrupt hand gestures, or flashing our headlights. Frustrating elements like heavy traffic and road works can further shorten our fuses, leading to more aggressive behaviour.
The biggest problems with road rage are probably pretty clear – first of all, they can distract us from the road around. Focusing our attention on a single driver behind us could potentially mean we miss one changing lanes ahead of us, which can all too easily result in an accident. Then there’s an even bigger issue – if one or two drivers are engaging in deliberately provocative or reckless behaviour, a collision is almost all but certain.
If you feel the anger bubbling up inside you, road rage can be very difficult to control. And while it’s true that the ultimate responsibility for your own actions rests with you, happily there are a couple of tricks you can use to make things easier for yourself.
Take deep breaths
It might sound so obvious as to be a cliché, but then again, it’s cliché for a very good reason! Taking long, deep breaths is scientifically proven to help calm us down, which can help you exert better control over your emotions and reactions. The technique is simple – breathe deeply into your abdomen, and exhale slowly. Do this as many times as you need to.
Think about what you’re listening to
Another helpful finding of these many scientific studies over the years is that faster paced or aggressive music tends to have an according influence on the way we drive. Heavy rock, thrash metal, or drum and bass all tends to make us drive faster and more aggressively, according to the research. On the other hand, slower or more chilled-out music tends to help us make more measured, controlled driving decisions. If you feel ‘The Rage’ coming on, switching tracks might help. If you’re stuck in traffic, podcasts or learning activities have been shown to help tackle the boredom and frustration that these experiences can induce.
If you’re late for something with a firm schedule like the school run, a dawdling driver in front of you can be particularly annoying. However, if you’re just on your way home, then the time pressure is less intense, and it can sometimes help to remind yourself of that. That’s not to say your time isn’t valuable, but just that you might have more of it to spare than you might think. Sure, being stuck in traffic isn’t ideal, but the telly will still be waiting for you when you get back. Ten minutes (or even half an hour) here or there doesn’t make any huge difference.
The unfortunate truth is that controlling your own behaviour is the easy bit. When it comes to dealing with the behaviour of other drivers, you’ve got a whole other task on your hands. On the plus side, there are a couple of things you can do to take the heat out of the situation.
We all make mistakes. A misjudged turn here, a forgotten indicator there. The good news is that as a whole, the human race is a very forgiving bunch, but having to react at high speed often stresses us out, and if you’re on the receiving end it can feel very much like all-out aggression from someone else. Basically, what we’re saying is that high-speed mistakes often provoke accordingly strong reactions, but if you acknowledge you were in the wrong, you might be surprised at how many drivers will immediately let it go. All it takes is a quick raised hand, or even a mouthed “sorry” if you’re in direct view, and everyone goes home happy. (Even if you’re not technically in the wrong…)
When another driver is being deliberately annoying or aggressive – such as by tailgating – it can be tempting to ‘teach them a lesson’ or ‘give them a taste of their own medicine’. If you ever find your thought process includes these words, though, it’s likely that your response is unlikely to be safe or legal. Engaging in tit-for-tat exchanges with other motorists, such as by tailgating them immediately after they’ve tailgated you, is not only incredibly dangerous for yourself and the other motorist, but also for everyone around you.
Galling as it may seem, the best thing to do is to simply move away, and let them do as they please. You’re not losing any sort of game, and you’re not bowing to intimidation. You’re simply recognising that there are more worthy fights in life than those fought over the third lane of a rush-hour motorway. If they’re driving dangerously or recklessly, they may well be involved in an accident eventually. Don’t let it be one that involves you.
By keeping your cool and driving safely, you’ve got a better chance of naturally running down the clock on your car’s lifespan, rather than writing it off in an accident. Obviously, we’d rather you did the former, but either way you can always count on us to help you scrap it here at Scrap Car Network! It all starts with a simple scrap car quote, which you can get right here from our website. Just enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and in no time at all you’ll have your very own instant online quote. The entire process takes as little as ten seconds. So, ready to find out how much your car is worth?