Think your aggressive driving is acceptable on the roadways? Think again. Yelling, gesturing and retaliation aren't just unacceptable actions, they're down right unsafe (and often illegal). From tailgating to speeding, aggressive driving causes many independent car rental drivers to lose their cool behind the wheel. Before your frustration turns into all out rage, remember these important tips for avoiding dangerous driving behavior.
1) Get some sleep.
According to the U.S. National Sleep Foundation, we'd all be a whole lot nicer behind the wheel if we just went to bed at a decent hour. Failure to get enough sleep makes us prone to feelings of annoyance, resentment and anger. Throw in a helping of rush hour traffic and it's easy to see why road rage can occur.
2) Give yourself time.
If you're running late, don't try and make up time on the road. Poor planning can cause a serious case of lead foot and a lost temper. So stop rushing. Instead, wake up 10 minutes earlier so you have time to breathe during your morning routine. Better yet, take the time to prepare things like clothing, briefcases and lunch buckets before you go to bed. This will minimize your morning rush and make you calmer behind the wheel.
3) Your car is not an extension of yourself.
While it's easy to identify with your car rental, make sure you adhere to some boundaries. If your boss or girlfriend has left you frustrated, don't blow off steam by taking a drive. Your car rental is a mode of transportation, not a therapist. If you need to vent, take a walk. You're far less likely to cause an accident storming down the sidewalk.
4) Avoid aggressive music.
If you've had a tough day and traffic is bad, don't add fuel to the fire by listening to bass-pumping music. Instead, try tuning into a more relaxing station. Jazz, classical, or even a comedy station can help lift your spirits and alleviate feelings of road rage and stress.
5) Don't be so tense.
Believe it or not, holding your steering wheel in a death grip will not improve traffic conditions. Neither will clenching your jaw or punching the dash. Don't let your frustration get the best of you. Loosen up and remember to breathe. If you can, pull over and get out of your vehicle. Stretching your muscles, even for just a minute, can help reduce anxiety and make you feel more relaxed.
6) Don't take things personally.
The guy that just cut you off? Don't assume he's out to get you. As an individual, you are not the target of his bad driving behavior. You're simply an innocent bystander. So don't take it personally – just let it slide and continue with your commute.
7) Anger is toxic.
Did you know people who are prone to angry outbursts are almost three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those with a high threshold for anger? Anger has been linked to a number of serious heath risks, including everything from obesity and depression to stroke. So before you start screaming out the window, stop and think about your health. The more you curse and shout, the more you put yourself at risk.
8) Imagine you're with your Mom.
How would your Mother react to your most recent driving tirade? Probably not all that well. The next time you start to lose your cool, picture her face. The shame alone should help you calm down and regain your composure.
9) Record your fury.
To analyze your road rage, simply pick up a cheap handheld recorder and capture your reactions. Hearing yourself ranting and raving on tape might be just what you need to rein in your anger. If you're shocked by what you hear, check out the RoadRageous test. Developed by the American Institute for Public Safety, this test is designed to determine just how aggressive your driving really is.
10) Be courteous.
Remember the old motto; do unto others, as you would have them do to you? Repeat that in your head the next time you feel the urge to retaliate from behind the wheel. Remembering simple driving courtesies can go a long way to making the driving experience positive for yourself and others.
The next time you get behind the wheel of your independent rental car remember: you're in control of your temper. Don't let congested roadways or impatient drivers light your fuse. Keep your aggression under control and avoid unnecessary road rage.