Johannesburg - Road rage is on everyone's lips after a despicable act involving a passenger of a Porsche Boxster driver got South Africans fuming earlier this week and then another tantrum in Pretoria hit the headlines on Friday.
While we might not have a patch on Russians when it comes to road rage, aggression on the road is still a significant problem in our country and it's essential for us all to face the problem head-on and ask whether we're doing our best to make our roads a calmer place.
Insurance provider Dial Direct has taken a long hard look at the phenomenon and spokesperson John October imparts some valuable advice about keeping your cool behind the wheel.
October points out that even the most laid-back person can be led to take their frustration out on other drivers after a stressful day, although there a few problem behaviours that could indicate that you're in the danger zone.
SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
Do I regularly exceed the speed limit to get to work on time?
Do I drive too close to other drivers?
Do I flash my lights and hoot to let drivers know when they annoy me?
Do I verbally abuse other drivers whether they can hear me or not?
Do I frequently weave in and out of traffic to get ahead?
Do I feel the need to set bad drivers straight?
WHY ROAD RAGE OCCURS
October points out that road rage is really just the release of pent up anger which very often has little to do with driving or traffic:
“If a person is already at boiling point after an argument with their boss, for example, someone unintentionally cutting them off in the traffic can be all it takes to push them over the edge.”
Ultimately, as a driver the onus is on you to manage your emotions while driving.
HOW TO AVOID ROAD RAGE
Don’t take bad behaviour personally
This is the most important psychological trick. When encountering another motorist's bad driving and/or seemingly arrogant attitude, remember that it has nothing to do with you. It is far more likely that that driver was distracted by something in his/her own car, and the ensuing behaviour was not meant to deliberately irk you.
If you are the type of person who allows just enough time to drive to an appointment, you might be more prone to temper and speeding. Adding 10 minutes to your expected journey time means being able to negotiate road works or other unexpected delays, without worrying about being late, and a calmer drive.
Change the radio channel
Listen to music that relaxes you, rather than hypes you up. Or, use the time to listen to an audiobook of that that novel you've been meaning to read for months.
Get enough sleep
Eight hours of sleep can do wonders for alleviating feelings of annoyance and anger.