Last updated on May 16th, 2017 at 02:41 pm
I am late, again. I’m rushing to work after dropping my son off at school and someone cuts in front of me without signaling. I hear my phone ping—probably a text from my boss. I feel my angry face coming on and my heart start to speed up. The other drivers’ faces look angry too.
Plymouth Rock Assurance just released a study on provocative and road rage driving in New Jersey. It turns out I am not alone. NJ drivers perceive the morning commute as the most stressful time to drive, and 96% of NJ drivers admit to engaging in at least one provocative driving behavior. Common aggressive driving behaviors witnessed include honking at other drivers (70%), making insulting gestures (59%), swearing at other drivers (56%), and pursuing another driver (25%). Perhaps these types of numbers explain our ranking as the eighth rudest drivers in the United States.
As I was driving, I remembered one of the reasons I was late. My son played one last “song” on his new recorder before leaving for school. I smiled at the memory and my heart slowed down. I felt better. I thought, keep calm and drive on.
Here are some tips from Plymouth Rock in New Jersey to manage the stress of your morning commute and defuse situations with aggressive drivers and road rage.
- Smile: Smiling reduces stress, and even fake smiles reduce heart rate. Scientists believe that smiling at others around you can cause mirror neurons in others to fire, resulting in others smiling. Avoiding frowns may even reduce depression.
- Clean Your Car: Clutter is correlated with stress, and stress triggers anger. The inside of your car is your home during your driving experience.
- Don’t Follow Too Closely and Avoid Tailgating: Follow the three-second rule.
- Be Proactive: Take a defensive driving course. This course will teach many driving skills, including how to avoid unsafe drivers, and it saves you money on your insurance policy that you could spend on a night out with your family or on your next vacation.
- Turn Off Your Cell Phone Ringer for Texts: This decreases distractions.
- Know Your Limits and Your Rights: You have a right to feel safe on the roadways. If you feel threatened by a driver, you can drive to a public place, call the police, or report the behavior.
- Take Five: Take five seconds for a deep breath before reacting to an aggressive driver. Not only will you drive more safely, but a Harvard study released this month reports you may be protecting yourself from the risk of triggering a heart attack or stroke.
Do you have any additional tips to reduce stress behind the wheel or defuse road rage? Please share your experiences or comments with us.