RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala- You may have noticed it today on your way to or from work: Road rage. Unfortunately, it’s common. Just recently, an Atlanta man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for pulling a gun on a family during a fit of road rage.
Most of us probably agree with each other that traffic is not something we necessarily enjoy, but in some form or another, it’s a part of our daily lives. But the key is, how do you keep yourself from getting too angry or from being a victim of someone else’s wrath?
“I honked the horn, he followed me to Walmart’s parking lot, I hopped out of the car, and he just drove off,” says Michael Cok.
Cok has been the target of road rage, but admits fellow motorists can drive him crazy as well.
“You’re always going to have some person who can’t drive who’s doing stupid things in the car. It doesn’t matter where you live, you are going to have it happen,” says Cok.
Why is it that so many of us take our anger to the road?
“We probably have more people on the road, and with more people comes more aggression,” says Mark Strunk.
Strunk is a counselor at The Pastoral Institute in Columbus. He believes one of the reasons people take their rage on the road is the depersonalization factor.
“When I’m in my car, I don’t know who that person is. So they no longer become a person. And I’m more apt to act aggressively toward someone that I don’t have a feeling of them as a human being,” says Strunk.
So how do we keep ourselves in-check so that our anger doesn’t spiral out of control?
The first step is to be courteous.
“That’s important that we don’t offend other people because that will just exacerbate their anger,” says Strunk.
Corporal Jess Thornton with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency agrees.
“[Drivers should not be] driving distracted which might put them being all over the highway, not riding in that left-hand lane and staying there and having people get behind them and get agitated,” says Thornton.
In addition, if targeted by an aggressive driver, don’t engage them. Avoid eye contact and do not retaliate with obscene gestures.
“Ignore it, and just get away from the situation and don’t feed in to it,” says Thornton.
Strunk also says we all need to work on our attitudes when driving, giving our fellow man the benefit of the doubt, instead of being quick to anger.
A good common sense tip is to be sure that you leave a little bit early, if you’re worried about being late, because you never know what you’ll encounter on the road.
A AAA survey from this year found that eight million drivers admit to jumping out of their cars to confront another motorist. Some even say they have run into another car on purpose in fits of rage.