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Top tips for keeping calm in your car

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WhoCanFixMyCar explores some of the techniques to help you combat road rage while behind the wheel.

Imagine you’re stuck sitting in a traffic jam that you know is going to make you late, or maybe another driver is tailgating you even though you’re going at the right speed. I bet you can already see red at the corners of your vision as that familiar feeling of road rage starts to take hold. 

While honking your horn and shouting obscenities might help to release your frustration in the short-term, allowing yourself to get wound up could have a big impact on your health over time. 

In the UK, we have the second worst levels of road rage anywhere in the world, which means we’re also more susceptible to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks as a result. Not to mention the increased risk of being involved in a road accident! So next time someone pulls out in front of you without indicating, the best thing you can do is try to keep calm.

Easier said than done, right? But it is possible to control these negative emotions, even if they happen impulsively. In this guide, we offer five tips to help you control your stress level and keep you nice and calm in your car.

What causes road rage?

Road rage is that impulsive feeling of anger that happens when inconvenient incidents happen on the road. It can be expressed in many different ways, such as shouting, swearing, fist shaking, beeping and even in extreme cases physical violence.

According to a study by the AA, tailgating is the most annoying driving behaviour, closely followed by talking on a mobile phone and middle lane hogging.

Road rage is especially prevalent in congested areas where there are long queues or at junctions and roundabouts.

Five tips for keeping calm...

1. Breathe

It might sound obvious, but breathing techniques offer an extremely effective way of reducing stress and anger. They can take your mind off whatever has caused you to feel road rage, and they also give you time to think before acting (if you decide to act at all).

Here’s what to do:

  • Breathe in as deeply as is comfortable through your nose.

  • Count to five while you do this. 

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to five again.

  • Repeat this process at least three times, after which you should feel noticeably more relaxed.

2. Take a step back

You never know what might be going on in another person’s life that could be influencing how they drive. Maybe that person who overtook you dangerously was on the way to the hospital and needed to get there urgently. That doesn’t necessarily excuse their dangerous driving, but it gives some perspective; you don’t know what other drivers are going through, and by being aware of that you can control your natural response. Perspective is key.

3. Counting idiots

This is a type of cognitive behavioural-intervention. Set out on your journey with the expectation that so many people on the road are going to make fools of themselves, and when they do, make a game out of it by counting them. This helps to lessen the stress you feel in response to dangerous or bad drivers.

4. Plan ahead

There’s nothing worse than that feeling when you’re rushing to get somewhere on time but you’re stuck in traffic and you know you’re not going to make it. To avoid this, plan out your journey before you set off and try to work out whether you’re likely to hit traffic. If you are, then factor this extra time into the trip and set off a few minutes earlier than you think you’ll need to.

5. Listen

Prepare a playlist with your favourite music or find a genre that is calming. Music can have a positive effect on your overall mood and stress level, but it can also have a negative effect, which is worth bearing in mind.

To help get you started we've created our own WhoCanFixMyCar playlist. Check out our suggestions of top tunes through the ages. We hope you like them! Podcasts, like music, can help to improve your mood. There are probably millions of different podcasts out there about a whole range of interesting topics, so next time you’re driving, why not try one out?

So there you have it! Five tips for keeping calm in your car. Do you have any go-to tricks that help you to deal with road rage? Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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