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Anger Management Tips for Road Rage

It seems we are living in an increasingly angry society. At least, that’s how it feels when we’re on the road.​

But don’t get too frustrated! You’re in no danger here. In fact, Truck Assist wants to help you understand anger, how it’s caused and what anger management tips you can use to suppress road rage and keep yourself and other road users safe.

What is Anger?

The Nature of Anger

Anger is a state of emotional being that can vary in intensity from mild irritation to raging, unbridled fury. Like other emotions, it causes changes in the mind and body; your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Feelings of anger can be caused by both internal and external events. Anger can arise from your dislike of another person or event (a good ol’ traffic jam will do it), or your anger can also be caused by worrying about your personal problems and memories of traumatic and enraging events in your past.

Expressing Anger

The instinctive way to express anger is to act aggressively. It’s a natural response to threats. Road rage is a manifestation of the powerful and violent feelings and behaviours that are usually used to defend ourselves when we are attacked.

However, it’s inappropriate to physically lash out at every person or object of irritation; the law places limits on how far we can take our anger.

Everyone is different. It makes sense then, that people use a variety of conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their anger. So, depending on the type of person behind the wheel, harsh words, rude gestures and aggressive driving are all ways of expressing annoyance and contempt in the car.

Or course, road rage that leads to dangerous driving is a completely unacceptable way of expressing anger. These events can escalate to potential deadly accidents where anyone – children, parents, seniors – can be the victim. Its vital that we know how to quickly and calmly acknowledge our anger, the potential danger that it can lead to and understand the steps that should be taken to deescalate your feelings. Truck Assist have some anger management tips that you can employ to save you a written-off vehicle and an innocent life.

Anger Management Tips

The aim of management is to reduce both your feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You have no control over the external stimulus that enrage you, but you can learn to regulate your thoughts and reactions towards them.

As mentioned before, some people are more prone to outbursts of anger. If you have a low tolerance for frustration, then the following strategies for managing your rage will be vital. However, we are all capable of a reckless, rage fuelled road rampage. So, it’s important for those who seem calm under the hood to heed this expert advice also.

Employ Relaxation Techniques

The first and most obvious tip we can give you is to relax. Here are 3 simple steps you can take to achieve this even when you are behind the wheel.

  • Slow, deep breathing from your diaphragm. This means you need to picture your breath coming up from your ‘gut’.
  • Repeating calming words or phrases such as “relax,” or “take it easy.” Recite these affirmations while practicing deep breathing.
  • Visualising relaxing memories and imagery. This will help remove you from the stressful situation you find yourself in.

Recite Logical Self-Talk

The language we use reinforced that the way we are thinking. The colour language we tend to use when we experience a bout of road rage only fuels the feelings of disdain we are harbouring at that point.

When you’re angry, your thoughts become exaggerated and melodramatic. The first thing you need to do is recognise when this happens. The second step is to try replacing these irrational thoughts with more logical ones. For example, instead of exclaiming to yourself, “Ah &$@#! This it terrible! I’m on the road with a bunch of idiots!” Stop this thought before it becomes verbal and replace it with, “It’s completely understandable why I am frustrated, but I can’t control the actions of others and remaining calm is the best thing I can do at this point.

Remember, logic defeats anger. Remind yourself of this the next time you feel road rage is about to take hold.

Deliver Better Communication

It should also be pointed out that road rage can be transferred from person to person. Coherent communication is often the first thing that gets thrown out the window when anger takes hold. So, when angry people jump to - and act on – inaccurate conclusions (which they usually do) it can literally mean a recipe for disaster.

If you’re on the receiving end some road rage, its natural to get defensive and yell back some equally distasteful expletives. Rather, understand that your fellow road user is likely misinformed and may feel neglected or hardly done by for a reason that obviously seems logical to them. Keep your cool; act deliberately and calmly in the most appropriate manner and let the road rager know that you understand their frustration (not apologising for it). That way, you’re on an even keel and you’ve help deescalate their dangerous behaviour in the process.

Change Your Environment

Another good strategy for beating a bout of anger on the road is change your immediate environment. Now, we know what you’re going to say. “How can you do this if you’re in the car driving?”. Well, here a few anger management tips to tame you next fit of road rage.

  • Change the route of your daily commute. If you know your usual way to work is chockas’ with traffic, and always leaves you in state of frustration, get a change of scenery. Even if the new route is a bit longer, hopefully you’ll stay on the move and away from the road to raging aggression.
  • Wind down the window. Refreshing your air with rush of outside air and instantly change the environment in the car. If teamed with considerate thoughts of relaxation, you anger will quickly disappear, and the roads will once again be peaceful place.
  • Turn up the music. Switch the on your favourite song or station to take your mind off current frustrations.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with anger itself. It's a normal, human emotion that is naturally geared to protect us from external threats. However, when those ‘threats’ are innocent citizens and you have the power of a motor vehicle at your fingertips, devastating accidents can happen. Road Rage can overcome anyone, so it’s important that, when in the moment, you know how best to dispel your anger and keep yourself and your fellow road users.

By trying to (1) stay relaxed, (2) recite calm logical self talk, (3) deliver clear communication, and (5) change your immediate environment, we can all help to keep our roads safe and our cars out of the mechanics. 

For more practical tips and insights on trucking and small business head over the Truck Assist Blog

About

By Peter Doyle, Founder - Guidelight Psychology, Counselling Psychologist and Organisational Psychologist

As a young man, Peter enjoyed a knockabout North Queensland life where he worked in truck deliveries and warehouse unloading for the food service industry. The colourful friendships and old school learning he gained from his time in this industry has been priceless to the development of his character, and insights about the value of working hard & keeping your word!

Nowadays, Peter is an endorsed Counselling Psychologist and Organisational Psychologist, as well as the founder of Guidelight Psychology. Over the past 25 years, Guidelight has helped thousands of individuals, couples, families and business. Peter finds it particularly rewarding to help his clients find solutions, and gain results, across all types of people and performance problems.