We all have a breaking point. We have all been annoyed by something another driver has done. We all become frustrated in traffic jams. However, some drivers deal with these situations better than others. In my Phoenix, Arizona law practice, I have seen several car accident personal injury cases, that arose out of road rage situations.
Drivers who lose their cool have become an increasing danger on Arizona roadways and as a result, sometimes cause car accidents, and according to WebMD, there is an explanation for this:
"You know those studies of overcrowding in rats?" asks Barry Markell, PhD, a psychotherapist in Park Ridge, Ill., who has treated many perpetrators and victims of road rage. "Well, rats are usually OK until there is one rat too many in an enclosed space and then they all turn on each other. There are far more people on the road than ever before. Crowding causes aggression."
How do you avoid becoming a raging monster menacing the roads of Phoenix, Arizona? How do you keep your cool when someone is persistently engaging in obnoxious driving behaviors? How do you avoid acting toward another in ways you would never use in other situations? Eight tips for avoiding road rage are:
- Get enough sleep. Eight hours a night are still the recommended number of hours of sleep. Lack of sleep makes people more edgy and cranky, more prone to anger.
- Give yourself more time. Arise an hour earlier in the morning to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination even if there is a traffic jam. If you have an appointment at an unfamiliar address, go there the day before so you are familiar with the route.Acknowledge that your car is not your therapist. If you are angry, go for a calming walk before you get into the car. Do not use your car to blow off steam. Remember, your car is a mode of transportation, not a psychologist.
- Listen to calming music. According to PsychCentral.com, the soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions, and it can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Some people prefer to listen to a book on tape while they drive.
- Breathe deeply. When you notice that you are clutching the steering wheel in a death grip, breathe deeply. Deep breathing is not only relaxing, it's been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of your genes according to Mladen Golubic, a physician in the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine.
- Practice empathy. Realize that the driver in the other car is not purposefully trying to irritate you. He or She is not intentionally performing a thoughtless driving maneuver. Remember that the other driver is someone's mother, father, sister or brother. Acknowledge that your driving is not 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time.
- Realize that anger is toxic. People most prone to anger are almost three times more likely to have a heart attack than those with low anger, according to the American Psychological Association; therefore, courteous driving is good for your heart.
- Ask for help. If you fear you have a problem with road rage, anger management or stress reduction courses are readily available according to www.aaafoundation.org. These courses will help you adjust your attitude and could save your life.
Jay L. Ciulla is a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona. He helps people in personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from car accidents. Call (602) 495-0053 for a free initial consultation.