There’s something about getting behind the wheel of a car that can transform the most level-headed soul into a snarling fiend. Any trifling misdemeanour becomes a personal slight; from the girl in front who turns left without a signal to the delivery driver who’s too busy rocking out to Van Halen to notice the light’s turned green (his air-drum solo is way off, too). But while it’s tempting to slam your fist on the horn or fling your arms in the air, it’s not going to help. Repeat: wailing and gnashing your teeth only makes things worse. Instead, take the moral high ground and defuse undue in-journey angst.
One of the leading causes of road rage is when drivers behave in an unexpected way. If you find you’re always flicking your indicator midway through turning into a junction, you should take a long, hard look at yourself in the rear-view mirror. Signal in plenty of time – not once you’ve reached the junction or midway round the roundabout. It’s only fair to give others time to plan for your actions.
Ever hear a beep, followed by a honk, then suddenly a chorus of horns, all tooting in deafening unison? Frustration is infectious. You should only be using your car’s horn to alert others to your presence – not to your emotions. Instead, when the maddening happens, take a deep breath, count to three… and just get on with your life.
Don’t block or rush across a car’s path if it’s emerging – slow down, leave the way clear and let other drivers out, especially if a junction is jam-packed. It will only add about three seconds to your journey. Similarly, when you notice a car indicating that it needs to move into your lane, be nice, hold back and let it out. You might save some poor soul a three-mile round trip in the wrong direction. Plus, you’ll be beaming at the thought of all the good karma coming your way.
Fact: nobody likes being stuck behind a cyclist, a street cleaner, or a horse. But anyone can handle the circumstances with grace and decorum. Stay back. Don’t attempt to pass unless it’s completely safe, and if you do, leave at least a car’s width between you and the other road user.
The slightest delay can become a big deal if you’re in a rush. It’s a cliché, but one of the best things you can do is plan your journey before you set off. Use a sat nav with live traffic updates so you can be realistic about the time it will take. Activate your car radio’s traffic news. If you do come across a delay, don’t try to compensate by rushing. Nothing’s worth causing an accident for.