It’s a sweltering 90 degree afternoon and you’ve been stuck on 66 for the last half an hour. Your air conditioning is broken so you decide to roll down your window to let a breeze in, only to be blown away by the sounds of dozens of horns and yelling motorists.

“Move your car!”

“You move your car!”

“You’re an idiot!”

“Learn how to drive!”

These screams were then followed by animated hand gestures and screeching tires, as the cars next to you vied for the open two inches of space ahead of you.

It is now 93 degrees in your car and although you want to stay safe and calm, you can feel your anger rising with the temperature. So, what can you do to stay safe instead of retaliating with your own ill-advised maneuvers and rude hand gestures?

Follow these warm weather safety tips to keep your cool:

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

Have questions or concerns regarding your summer driving risks and accident rights? Get a free review of your Virginia Auto Insurance Policy compliments of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas. Contact us today for more information!

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