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The Psychology Behind Why We Experience Road Rage

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A recent study has revealed almost two in three (62%) UK drivers experienced road rage, with one in three people reporting more than two incidents a week. It also revealed tips on de-escalating anger while driving and partnered with an expert to show why we experience road rage.  

Why do we experience road rage?

Neuro-linguistic expert Rebecca Lockwood offers some insight into why our emotions are heightened when we are behind the wheel. She said: ‘Our road rage tendencies are partly down to our experiences while watching others drive, which can greatly impact how we perceive what is normal while driving. For those who have grown up watching a parent express road rage, it can be common for us to inhabit these behaviours as we grow older.’

Road rage is often intensified by external factors we experience in our day-to-day lives. While experiencing stress in other areas of your life, it’s common for them to burst out in different situations.’

Asked why being in a car can amplify frustration, Rebecca said: ‘When we are experiencing road rage in the car, it’s much easier to forget that the other cars hold real people. It dissociates someone from the situation and creates a barrier between the person and the car.’

Expert tips on how to de-escalate anger while driving

Maintain concentration 

Glaring lights, radios, and passengers can all be highly distracting. Giving the road your complete attention will avoid sudden surprises enabling you to be more vigilant of other drivers, increasing your reaction time. 

Make sure you’re well-rested 

Tiredness can often take over after a stressful day at work or many miles into a long-distance drive. When drivers are tired, they are much more susceptible to irritability and distraction; it’s essential to take a break from driving if you’re feeling this way. 

Take a moment before you react 

Often, we can find ourselves in situations where we are unaware of how tense we are and taking a moment to step back from the situation will give you time to reflect on whether a certain response is warranted. 

Be forgiving and learn to let go 

No driver is perfect, and it can become easy to judge someone’s driving ability based on a brief interaction, but forgiving other road users and letting go of frustrations is important. 

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