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Calm the Farm: Avoiding Road Rage

Road rage is hardly a new phenomenon.  Losing one’s temper and exploding at some dimwit who has got in the way of your means of transport doesn’t just pre-date the horseless carriage – it predates the steam engine, sprung suspension and four-wheeled forms of transport. Yep, back when horse- and ox-drawn carts had only two wheels and rivers were the best form of rapid transport, they had road rage. Or, more accurately, river rage.  There is an Egyptian tomb painting showing two boatmen having a scrap, presumably after one has cut the other off or rammed the other.  Archaeologists translated the hieroglyphics in speech bubbles and found that one of the boatmen is yelling “Take that, you f***er!” at the other.angry-driver-with-road-rage_100349832_m

OK, so it’s human nature to get annoyed when somebody just about takes you out because they were not looking when they were going.  However, the authorities these days take a stricter view of having a transport-related punch-up compared to the ancient Egyptians, so how do you avoid road rage?

  1. Get a decent night’s sleep.  This way, you won’t be as irritable and you’re also less likely to make mistakes that annoy other people.
  2. Plan ahead and allow plenty of time.  If you do everything in a rush at the last minute, little things that slow you down or cause delays are going to get on your wick even more.  What’s more, being late and in a rush gets your adrenaline going – the “fight or flight” chemical.  You’re practically priming yourself for aggro.  So allow extra time for your journey and don’t stress yourself out.
  3. Everybody has the same road rights, whether they drive a big-engined HSV Senator or a frugal little Suzuki Swift.  However, cars have different limitations.  OK, so that old clunker hasn’t whipped into a gap in the traffic at the intersection that you would have taken.  This is possibly because said old clunker doesn’t have the quick acceleration of your car and the driver knows it.  So don’t honk your horn.  If you were going up a flight of stairs somewhere public and you were held up by an elderly person going a bit slow, you probably wouldn’t yell at Grandpa/Grandma for not going any faster.  Have the same sort of consideration behind the wheel.
  4. Remember that L-plates and even P-plates mean “young and inexperienced driver who is likely to stuff things up, take things slow or do something unexpected”.  You’re the adult, so act like one.
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  5. Be a courteous driver.  If you avoid sudden lane changes, tailgating or cutting people off, you’re less likely to tick other drivers off and get yourself on the receiving end of road rage.  Look both ways before turning out of an exit before you move not while you move.  And, for goodness’ sake, don’t text and drive!  It’s illegal for one thing and it does make you less aware of what other drivers are doing.  Even if you do have blind spot sensors, crash avoidance systems and all the other safety features that you get on the latest models.
  6. If someone does come storming up to your car swearing blue streak and waving fists around, apologise and admit you were wrong if you were wrong. Female drivers have the non-PC but effective option of getting tearful when menaced by an angry male driver.  Forgive me, women’s rights campaigners, but this one did work for me once.  Stay in your car and don’t rise to any provocation.
  7. Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps that driver who seems to be up your exhaust pipe or who cut you off in a huge hurry is a doctor who’s had an emergency callout or is a parent who’s got a call from the school to say that their child is badly hurt.  Perhaps the person who’s weaving all over the place has a wasp in the car.  Perhaps the person who is going slower than the speed limit is from out of town and doesn’t have a navigation system, and is trying to read the road signs; or perhaps they’re taking something sloppy and sticky to a potluck dinner and don’t want to spill it by fast acceleration, cornering and braking.

Happy driving,