Why It's Time To Get That Road Rage Under Control
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Why It's Time To Get That Road Rage Under Control

It's more than "getting back" at that jerk that cut you off.

Why It's Time To Get That Road Rage Under Control

Road Rage.

noun: violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions.

Yup, that pretty much describes me as I get cut off at the merge from two lanes to one on westbound M45 as I leave Allendale. . . pretty much every time I drive home.

Why do I feel such extreme anger when I get cut off in this way? People often describe me as "pretty chill" and "calm and collected." I focus on being relaxed and optimistic, so that is a nice compliment. When I get into my car, I enjoy listening to my favorite songs or on longer trips, listening to Ted Talks. I follow the rules of the road; don’t text while driving, pay attention to my surroundings, use my blinker, courteous of other drivers. I always take care to safely change into the lane that will continue, well before the merge occurs. That is the way everyone else should drive!

So one day, I’m driving to yoga class, humming along to Justin Timberlake. There I am, easy going, until someone cuts me off and then my alter ego comes out. Full of rage and fury, this sweaty-palmed version of myself is very far from "calm." I pretty much relate with the character baby "Jack-Jack" from "The Incredibles" who can turn into a Tasmanian devil when threatened. The thing that fills me with the most rage when I am driving is when someone cuts me off. Seriously!

Oh no, don't worry about me as I slam on my breaks and risk being rear-ended to avoid you smashing the side of my car! My palms are starting to sweat just thinking about the thousands of times this has happened. OK, thousands might be an exaggeration...

My road rage started to become an issue when I stopped slamming on my brakes to let the “jerks” merge over. I realized how I was reacting to other drivers’ reckless and inconsiderate driving was making my driving become potentially hazardous. I recognized in myself an inconsiderate driver, thinking of myself, not letting someone merge, potentially dangerous and definitely not the person I strive to be. With the realization that I might need to do something to lessen my road rage, I turned to Ted Talks for an answer.

While listening to a Ted Talk about road rage, I was given some good advice. When someone drives like a maniac or cuts me off, instead of letting my anger take over I should give them the "benefit of the doubt." This means instead of calling them a few choice words, I should think, "maybe they are on their way to the hospital or to visit a sick relative or have a crying child in the car." These thoughts allow me to feel empathy for the other drivers, and a little less rage.

So has this eradicated my road rage entirely? No, only a little actually. But, on the positive side, less road rage has allowed me to take a step back and think about driving in a new way. We all have someone to go -- obviously. Will slowing down to let someone go ahead of me make that big a difference in my drive time? No. Will it make a difference to me, to my emotions, to my day? Yes, I hope it will, because at the end of the day I am choosing to think of others and our safety, even if they’re not thinking of mine. I am the only one in control of me and my emotions.

We do not give cars as much respect as they deserve. They are powerful machines that in an accident, can easily take our lives in an instance. But we also don’t give the people driving them the respect they deserve either. This shift in perspective has lead me to realize that even horrible drivers are people. People with families, friends and lives to live.

It seems like every day there is a terrible news story about a family that got into a car crash leaving them one member short. I do not want to be the cause of this grief and pain, nor a victim of an accident.

We all need to drive with more reverence for the machines that man has created to get us from point A to point B and for the people operating them. Do I have road rage? Yes. But now I try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt and give other drivers respect because they are human beings. I remind myself it is how I choose to react to my emotions that will potentially keep myself and others safe when operating the heavy machinery that we take for granted each day.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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