Oh! Did you see that? That woman didn’t wait her turn, she just cut me off. Who does she think she is? I’m going to pass her and let her know I’m pissed! She doesn’t know how to drive!!!
I’m ranting and raving like a lunatic as I pass the person who had the nerve to take her turn at the stop sign before me. As my blood got hotter and hotter, I look over at the source of my anger.
What I saw immediately dissolved my animosity towards the other driver.
A frazzled faced mother and two children were looking back at me, smiling. The mom nodded her head, mouthed the word “sorry” and waved. I meekly waved back, knowing I was about to give her the stink eye, and went on my way.
I had that poor mother tarred and feathered in my mind. Maybe her kid really had to go potty. Or what if she was late picking up another child and she was in a hurry, exactly like I would be if it were my child waiting on me.
That wasn’t my first episode of an embarrassing case of road rage. But it was a turning point for me and I vowed to change my ways and clam down while driving. I wasn’t cured just yet.
Fast forward a few years and karma finds me. I was the mom with a kazillion things on my mind. The truck came up so fast behind me, it was almost as if I blinked and made it appear in my rearview mirror.
The person driving behind me was so close to my bumper, I could see the scowl on their face. Lip reading was easy too. Being on a winding country road, it was difficult for cars to pass one another. We were stuck.
The first neighborhood turn off I came to, I exited as fast as I could and hoped the truck went on about their business. It worked! Relief washed over me. My sleeping baby never knew that we had just been the victims of road rage.
In the U.S., almost 66% of traffic related deaths are caused by aggressive driving. This doesn’t mean all traffic deaths are because of road rage but all road rage is aggressive driving.
If you’re not sure if you are guilty of road rage, ask yourself these questions:
Have you ever used angry or obscene gestures at another driver?
Are you quick to honk your horn at others?
Do you tailgate the car in front of you to encourage them to speed up?
Is flashing your headlights how you let other cars know to get our of your way?
Do you consistently run red lights because you’re in a hurry?
Are you a speeder every time you drive?
The truth hurts a little doesn’t it? Every one of those questions involve an aggressive driver and could cause you more heartache than you’d ever want to know.
If you answered yes to all of them, let this post be a wake up call for you to take control of yourself now.
After I got a taste of my own medicine with the truck, I totally changed the way I drove. My precious cargo is depending on me to keep us safe. I now practice defensive driving every single time I drive.
Defensive driving to me means that I stay aware of what’s going on around me. I leave on time so there’s no need to rush to my destination. Texting is a big no-no and I use speaker-phone or blue-tooth for calls. I watch my speed and use my blinker. Not using a blinker is a huge road rage maker.
My biggest success was the change in my attitude. By allowing the other drivers grace, it allowed me to be chill. It made me feel like I was doing good deeds and I no longer got angry at the other drivers for perceived transgressions.
If a tailgater is behind me, I change lanes to let them pass or I will pull over. It’s that simple. It might seem like excessive courtesy to the other driver but really, it’s what makes me feel better and I get home safely with my child.
If you think you are a victim of road rage, here are some tips that may help defuse the situation:
Avoid reactions, the aggressive driver wants you to play their game
Don’t make eye contact, if the other driver person can’t get you to engage, then it’s no fun
Resist honking your horn, that will only let the other driver know you’re ready to participate
Refrain from any hostile or obscene gestures
These are only suggestions. If you feel threatened or otherwise are scared it’s escalated too far, call911. These instances are rare but do happen. I’m not trying to upset you, but want you to be aware of them.
As a reformed road rage driver, I think back to the other mother and wished I had showed her some grace and not been such a grouch. Plenty of times now, I have “moved” over. Or shown courtesy to an undeserving driver.
I don’t really do it for the other driver but for my family and for me. Everyone has a whoopsie moment, it doesn’t cost anything to forgive or be kind. I choose grace.