angry driver with road rage yelling at another driverRoad rage traffic incidents are on the rise and the heat of summer can make them even more likely. As a driver, you can take steps to cool your own temper, and you can be prepared for other drivers who might be about to blow a fuse. Read our tips for staying cool when driving during a Virginia summer.

Cooling Your Traffic Temper

The best way to prevent road rage is to avoid stressful traffic in the first place. On really hot days, try taking back roads instead of crowded highways (especially at rush hour). Instead of taking 66 at five o’clock, try taking routes 79 and 55. However, sometimes these routes aren’t convenient or less congested, so it’s also a good idea to know how to prevent yourself from becoming too hot under the collar and making poor decisions while stuck in sweltering wall-to-wall traffic.

  • Keep cool. Lower your body temperature by opening windows, turning on the air conditioning, or putting something cool on your neck. Your body mimics the effects of anger when it is hot—elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, sweating, and an overall feeling of agitation and misery—which can fool your brain into thinking you’re angry and cause you to behave recklessly.
  • Ventilate the car. Increase airflow by either opening opposite windows or turning your air vents to max. Stale or stagnant air can be difficult to breathe and therefore cause increased stress, claustrophobia, and high blood pressure—resulting in the “fight or flight” impulses of road rage.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause you to become extremely irritable. Always have cold water in your car on hot days, especially if you anticipate a long drive. Stick with water if possible, as coffee and pop don’t hydrate as well as good old-fashioned H2O.

Keep a warm weather traffic kit in your car for both you and your family. Keep the kids busy with activities to ward off crankiness and yelling (reducing your stress as well). Having extra water and food—such as granola bars, dried fruit, and nuts—on hand can help raise blood sugar and prevent lows that can contribute to stress and road rage. Cooling packs or alcohol wipes can be used to cool the backs of necks to lower body temperature.

Protecting Yourself From Angry Drivers

Encountering drivers with road rage can be a frightening and potentially dangerous experience. To protect yourself and your passengers, you can take certain precautions to avoid escalating the situation. Here are some tips:

  • Stay calm and avoid engaging with the angry driver. Don't make eye contact, yell, or gesture.
  • Move out of the way if possible. Allow the driver to pass you or change lanes if necessary.
  • Keep a safe distance from the angry driver's vehicle. Avoid tailgating or cutting them off.
  • Use your horn sparingly and only when necessary to alert the driver of your presence.
  • If you feel threatened, call 911 or drive to a safe location such as a police station or busy public area.

By staying calm, avoiding confrontation, and taking steps to protect themselves, drivers can minimize the risk of becoming involved in a dangerous road rage incident. It's important to prioritize safety and avoid putting oneself or others in harm's way. Don’t let the warm weather affect your driving and possibly put your family at risk. Prepare ahead for long summer drives and hot traffic jams in order to avoid accidents, avert road rage, and keep your cool while driving. If you were seriously injured in a crash that wasn't your fault, we might be able to help you get compensation from the negligent driver.

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