Way's to relieve your stress behind the wheel without road rage

Avoiding road rage

Question: What do we do about driving stress and anger on the roads due to drivers who are endangering the lives of others? What do you recommend to help get your mind off a negative experience while driving?

Answer: I have wondered about this myself since I retired from the RCMP. As I can no longer reach for the controls to activate lights and siren, I have started to develop a different perspective.

It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of the situation because you feel helpless to do anything about it other than sit and stew, sound the horn or make rude gestures at the other driver.

When you find a driver who is truly endangering the lives of others on the road, I recommend making a driving complaint to the police. Be prepared to back it up with a written statement and the resolve to attend court if necessary.

I'm currently working through Defensive Driving Fundamentals and Attitudes, an on-line course from The Thinking Driver. One of the key points is I control my driving stress level.

When something happens around me in traffic, I get to choose the story about why it is happening even though I don't know anything about the other driver's circumstances.

The difference between deciding the other driver intentionally cut me off while making a lane change and cutting them some slack for unintentionally making a human error can result in a huge difference in your driving stress level.

Your reaction to the behaviour of other drivers also determines your driving stress level.

Honking, waving a fist or retaliating with bad driving of your own is really counterproductive. If the driver is selfish, your consternation will just become a source of amusement for them.

If the other driver has a short fuse, you may find yourself becoming involved in a road rage incident.

None of that will solve the problem.

In some cases, it will be a challenge, but smile and think of the things that really matter in your life when you feel your impatience, anger or frustration begin to get the better of you.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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