10 ways to control road rage

Rein in that temper and enjoy a top drive that is both safe and free of anger as school season commences

It’s summertime, and if the alarming statistics are anything to go by, then the sizzling temperatures outside are nothing compared to the rising levels of mercury inside the car while battling the roads of Dubai.

But losing your head and the control of your car is not exactly the solution we have in mind.

Curb that temper and train your brain to cool down for the September school season kicks off next week, when traffic levels peak again, along with your road rage.
 
Take responsibility

The first step in curbing road rage is admitting to yourself that you too have played a part in creating a scenario or reckless endangerment on the roads. If you are upset that a car has cut you off on the highway, ask yourself and be honest, ‘How many times have I done the same?’

It’s okay to point fingers at others, but very hard to acknowledge the truth about oneself. If even a small percentage actively spells out their own mistakes and takes a decision to change for the better, the roads would be a safer place.
 
Plan ahead

You will encounter rush-hour gridlock no matter what route you try, so rein in that temper and wise up. Dubai’s radio stations are quite adept in informing you where the accidents and bottlenecks are. This gives you plenty of time to map out an alternate route and avoid the screaming matches that directly result from sitting stationary for hours on end while the traffic piles up.

The 10-minute rule

You need to get somewhere on time, then leave 10 minutes earlier than planned. And do remember that you aren’t the only one who’s running late for your 9am meeting, so show a little courtesy to other drivers.
 
Music for your soul

Stash the Guns N Roses and Aerosmith away when you are in a particularly temperamental mood. The crash and bang of electric guitars and drums are not exactly a soothing balm for your frazzled nerves. If classical music isn’t your thing, then pop in a CD of popular lounge music and simply relax.
 
Catch up on reading

Well, maybe not the conventional way. “I’ve noticed that I particularly get nasty on the roads during the evenings, especially after a long day at work or when I’m thoroughly bored,” says Jyoti Lalwani, a Dubai-based business manager. “Instead of taking out my frustration on the car ahead of me, I now while my time constructively by listening to audio books in my car. It’s fun, takes your mind off the long drive home and diverts your mind away from committing assault on the driver who just cut ahead of you without indicating.”
 
De-stress your mind

As they say, worrying is like a rocking chair... it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Zen driving teaches you how to drive in the moment.

Don’t think about the destination, the meetings or the problems that have or will rise at work — sitting in your car is hardly the place you will solve them. What a stress-drive can result in is bad judgment that could prove fatal for you or some innocent bystander.
 
Compassion, compassion, compassion

So the chap in the white Land Cruiser wants to cut in; why not just let him?

Sometimes it’s so easy to accommodate a car that’s switching lanes or trying to merge into moving traffic without freaking out over it. Everything does not have to turn into a battleground, so next time someone wants to overtake you, why not just show them the courtesy and move to a slower lane and let them pass. Who knows, maybe that driver could pay the compassion forward to another.
 
Benefit of the doubt

“Most of us are so used to people driving recklessly in Dubai that when someone has a genuine emergency we treat them like the boy who cries wolf all the time,” says Eric McKinley, hospitality manager.

“A few months ago I was driving to Welcare Hospital when a car, speeding by at least 40 km over the limit, almost drove me off the road to make a turn. Furious, I noted the licence plate number and decided to report the driver to the Dubai police road safety department.

“As I was entering the hospital, I noticed the same car parked outside the emergency unit. Ready for a confrontation, I went in only to discover that the driver’s wife was being treated for a heart attack.

“Agreed this was a one-off case, but the experience has taught me to be a bit more sympathetic to other drivers on the road. Sometimes it’s easier to give someone the benefit of the doubt rather than chasing them down to pick a fight with them.”
 
Meditation on the move

Most experts advise that early morning meditation has a calming effect on the mind, body and soul, leading to the release of feel-good hormones in your body (especially when a bit of yoga or physical exercise is thrown in for measure).

If you feel that the calming effects of meditation wear off by the time you head home in the evenings then try meditating on the move. Deep breathing, thinking happy thoughts and even chanting are great ways to relax when behind the wheel. And if you still feel the negative effects of road rage taking over, then there’s no harming in pulling over to a safe spot and trying some breathing exercises before you hit the highway again.
 
Anger management

Analyse this: would you much rather indulge in highway warfare and endanger yourself and those around you, or find avenues to curb that nasty temper of yours and ensure a safer drive home to your family and loved ones? This one’s a no-brainer and anger management tips and techniques are readily available over the Internet for you to try. Workshops are also actively held in the city, so check your local listings and enrol in one this summer.

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