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Control rage on the road

Friday, 26 September 2008

All drivers will recognise the term 'road rage' - but what is it and how is it avoided? The term includes everything from an irate beep of the horn to full-fledged physical assault - via abusive language, gestures or threats.

Whatever the source of frustration on the road, the responsibility to control aggressive driving lies with the driver. Everyone who gets behind the wheel should take an honest look at their driving behavior, try to identify the things that press their 'hot buttons' and determine to control them.

The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) offers the following tips for avoiding and coping, with potential road rage situations:

Responding to road rage

* Don't panic or respond to aggressive behaviour: Try to think and act logically and never get out of the car to argue.

* Where possible, refrain from making eye contact with an angry driver: If the situation worsens, make sure windows are closed and doors locked.

* If an incident is becoming serious, keep moving but don't speed away as this can further enrage the other driver.

* Don't become boxed in by stationary traffic: Leave a sufficient gap in front to allow room to pull out if necessary and if trapped by another vehicle, stay in the car and try to attract attention by flashing lights or sounding the horn.

* If followed by an aggressive driver: Head for a busy
area/street, a police station or hospital - anywhere other people may be present, and call the police.

* If you accidentally irritate another driver: Simply holding up your hand to acknowledge the mistake will usually calm the situation.

Avoiding road rage

* Don't take it personally: Mistakes happen and other drivers may not even know their actions have annoyed someone else. Keep calm and don't overreact.

* Be prepared: Get enough sleep to cope with the demands of a long journey and plan to avoid time pressure.

* Don't take it out on the car: Never drive to express frustration. It can only make matters worse.

* Enjoy the ride: Consciously relax before getting behind the wheel. Sit comfortably upright in the driver's seat, tune into something relaxing on the radio and fix the air conditioner to a reasonable temperature.