Car Safety: How to Best Handle Frustration When Driving
Driving brings out a wide range of emotions; hitting the open road can be joyous, nerve-wracking, and at times, frustrating.
Although driving frustration can be difficult to manage, it's wise for drivers to look for ways to stay calm on the road. Learning anger-management techniques can help Canadian drivers keep themselves and their fellow motorists safe.
Risks of driving while frustrated
Although it's not against the law, driving while frustrated is extremely dangerous. Some road safety experts consider driving while angry to be as dangerous as texting or being impaired behind the wheel.
Whatsmore, an American study found that driving while sad, angry or agitated can increase the likelihood of a crash tenfold.
Why does this happen? Driving while frustrated influences your decision-making skills, which can cause you to:
- Zone out or not pay attention to your surroundings
- Behave recklessly (road rage)
- Get distracted or lose focus
So, although driving while frustrated isn't technically a crime, it can influence your choices and potentially provoke you to break the law. Breaking the rules of the road has several consequences, including:
- Fines and fees
- Loss of points
- Increased insurance rates
- May need to get high-risk auto insurance
Common reasons why Canadian drivers get angry on the road
Now that we understand why you shouldn't drive while angry, let's take a look at the common reasons why drivers get frustrated in the first place.
Losing your job, breaking up with your significant other or getting into an argument are all everyday examples of things that can upset people.
It's only natural to feel frustrated after a significant life change; however, this isn't an excuse to get behind the wheel. If something in your personal life is upsetting you, you should temporarily refrain from driving. If you need to get somewhere, we suggest opting for a safer alternative, like walking or taking public transit.
The actions of other drivers
Have you ever been passed in an intersection or cut off while merging into a lane? If so, you know how scary and frustrating it can be.
There's no denying that other drivers' actions can make your blood boil from time to time. Despite this, you should avoid letting other drivers influence your mood.
We know how frustrating traffic can be, especially in major Canadian cities. Not to mention, if you're running late for a job interview or important meeting, then being stuck in traffic can feel even more nerve-wracking.
As stressful as this can feel, you should try not to let your emotions get the best of you. Keeping your anger in check helps protect you and your fellow drivers.
How can you best handle frustration when driving?
Have you been in any of the situations listed above? If so, then you should consider finding some anger management techniques that help you stay grounded.
Are you having difficulty finding a technique that helps you manage your frustration when driving? Feel free to try out the methods listed below:
If another motorist is acting recklessly, one of the best things you can do is drive defensively.
For those who aren't familiar, defensive driving is a technique that’s used to minimize the likelihood of road-related danger.
Some common defensive driving tactics you can use are:
- Keep a safe distance from aggressive drivers
- Maintain a safe speed
- Avoid taking risks
If you'd like to improve your defensive driving skills and potentially learn a few new techniques, you can sign up for a class in your locale.
If you're feeling tense behind the wheel or are stuck in what seems like a never-ending traffic jam, you can use some tried-and-true breathing techniques to calm down.
Feel free to make use of the following exercise the next time you feel frustrated of the road:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose
- Hold your breath and slowly count from one to seven
- Breath out through your mouth and slowly count from one to eight
- Repeat until you feel grounded
This is one of many breathing techniques you can use to stay calm on the road.
Don't take other drivers’ actions personally
If another driver makes a reckless or poor decision, do your best not to take their actions personally.
When you find yourself in this predicament, remind yourself that you don't know what that person's day has been like or their current situation. For instance, an individual may drive recklessly if they are one their way to a hospital to support their significant other during labour.
Furthermore, you have no clue about their driving habits and may make reckless decisions on a regular basis.
Even if you feel like you influenced their actions, likely, you haven't. Because of this, it's best to stay calm and focus on the road.
Listen to calming music
The next time you're feeling frustrated on the road, we suggest that you turn on some calming music.
Studies have shown that slow, relaxing music has calming and anxiety-reducing qualities. Because of this, it's perfect for drivers that are in a bad mood.
If you're not sure what to play, consider the following genres:
- Reggae - This Jamaican genre of music is filled with uplifting beats and melodies that can soothe the tensest of drivers.
- Jazz - There's no denying that jazz is one of the most relaxing music genres. Not to mention, if you're feeling stressed out due to a migraine, jazz is the right choice for you. Studies have found that listening to jazz regularly can help people manage migraines and serious headaches.
- Classical - If the genres above aren’t for you, then you can opt for classical compositions. Classical music is known to help decrease listeners' heart rate, which, in turn, helps them stay calm and level-headed.
Consider a safer alternative
Although this may not help you on the road, opting for an alternative can prevent you from getting into a bad situation on the road.
If you're feeling angry or frustrated but need to go somewhere immediately, we suggest taking a walk or using public transit. If possible, you can also ask a friend or relative for a ride. Regardless of your choice, these alternatives are much safer than driving while angry.