We’ve all been there. You’ve had a long day, or you’re in a rush – and you just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. It’s at times like these when small actions from other drivers can get blown way out of proportion, and can trigger alarming responses. Regrettably, it seems to be a growing trend in Vancouver. Especially in the summer time.

You’re probably a great driver – but even the best of us can snap, or get overwhelmed, or overreact when we’re in a high stress situation. And there’s no doubt about it – being in control of a potential death machine is high stress – especially when there are hundreds of cars around you that you have no control over. If anything, this is why we should be extra compassionate and careful behind the wheel. If only humans were that simple.

HOW TO PREVENT ROAD RAGE

The key is nipping the situation in the bud by taking stock of where you are, what you’re doing, and what your surroundings are like.

If another driver is acting aggressively towards you and is clearly trying to escalate by either honking, gesturing or straight-up screaming at you out of their window, your best bet is to drop back and keep your distance.

While your gut reaction is probably to roll down your window and show off your best French – you should always remember that you can never be sure of who you’re dealing with. People will do what they will, but your reaction in those initial stages can help keep the both of you off of the evening news. If you can, try to keep your reactions in check, take some deep breaths and allow your ships to pass in the night.

In some situations you might find that you are actually the aggressor. Dealing with this takes time, but it can be done. A great tip for this kind of situation is to actively empathize with other drivers. Consider that they may have had a difficult day, or that they have genuinely made a mistake. Perhaps they didn’t mean to ‘cheat’ you by cutting into your lane – maybe they’re actually a bit lost. It helps to stop and think back to times when you’ve made mistakes while out on the road in the past. Take note of the fact that you don’t go out of your way to make other driver’s lives difficult – so why would they?

YOU ARE YOUR OWN BOSS

As the boy scouts always say – be prepared. Ample preparation is the key to most things in life, and if you want to prevent road rage, it can be a life saver. Schedule in lots of extra time for your journey, so you’re not racing against the clock to get somewhere on time. If you know that you’re going into an area with high traffic at certain times, look to schedule your day around those periods, or try to find alternative routes in advance.

Whatever you do, remember that you’re the one who controls your reactions and your behavior. No matter who starts it, you have some power in who stops it. Take a deep breath, play some chill music, smile, and wave road rage goodbye.