Road rage may make us more prone to accidents, but there are other risks as well. People experiencing road rage may face increased health risks that come from high levels of stress, tension, and anger. These episodes of acute stress may become chronic stress, which leads to many negative health outcomes.
But what about the legal side? Legal consequences will affect one’s overall health; physically, emotionally, and mentally. With a reckless driving felony conviction on their record, even if they don’t serve time in prison, their capacity to get suitable employment, obtain student loans, acquire a mortgage, or rent in a nice neighborhood will be significantly hindered, resulting in low self-esteem and potential misery and dissatisfaction into their lives.
Road rage also has serious physical consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 218 fatal crashes and 12,610 injuries were due to road rage in the United States in 2015 alone.
While it is important to be cautious of other drivers on the road, if you find yourself the victim of road rage, the best thing to do is to try and diffuse the situation. If you can’t do that, the next best thing is to get yourself to safety as quickly as possible.
How to stay calm while driving
- Change the negative responses by building awareness of how we drive.
- Imagine seeing yourself, looking in your mirror, and imagining you’re in a job interview as you feel yourself getting angry.
- Use breathing to calm yourself down, taking six deep, slow breaths to calm your parasympathetic nervous system, as we can easily activate the fight response with the acute stress we create.
- Finally, look to build the intention to deal with it before it arises. Prepare some compassionate considerations, such as ‘maybe they are going to the hospital,’ ‘maybe they are having a tough day’ or ‘maybe they didn’t see me’. Use these to defuse your negative thoughts when they arise.
When driving, it is essential to stay calm and aware. You can help diffuse any road rage situations before they become dangerous by following these tips.
What is the root of aggressive driving?
The source of aggressive driving is often frustration or worry about not having control over one’s environment, which is frequently the consequence of occupational stress. The road, on the other hand, might act as a substitute for one’s anger concerning their routine life.
When driving at night, some drivers may be inclined to behave violently. In hot weather or congested traffic, others may develop a more aggressive demeanor faster. Of course, any motorist might become irritated and lash out as a result of everything from stress to exhaustion to other motorists’ poor conduct.
Drivers with a confrontational demeanor are more likely to become enraged on the road, but drivers who are already nervous may experience an escalation in anxiety levels when driving. This might lead to hazardous behavior such as speeding, using the horn excessively, and cutting off other motorists.
However, road rage is not a sign of personal strength or social control. Most people who experience it are simply attempting to relieve their aggravation over a stressful situation beyond their control.
How aggressive driving impacts your health
In 2009, Liberty Mutual Insurance published a study that analyzed how people’s driving habits link to their health-related problems. This research discovered that the bodily problems associated with aggressive driving raised the risk of having a heart attack by 1.7 times. Age is not the only factor contributing to this elevated incidence of heart attacks. These researchers determined that fast driving, hard braking, and tailgating are also cardiovascular stressors.
In addition to the health risks, aggressive driving can ruin relationships. For example, if one spouse is always yelling and cursing at other drivers while on a ride together, the marriage is likely to suffer. Children who witness their parents arguing or screaming in traffic may start to model that kind of behavior themselves, leading to more conflict down the road.
For mental health, these researchers found that those who had poorer emotional and mental control were substantially more likely to drive aggressively than individuals who didn’t, with an immediate influence on their risk of a collision. Those who drove with a rigid or terrified appearance were also more likely to have car accidents.
Aggressive driving has a detrimental influence on both your mental and physical health. Whether you’re an aggressive driver or not, being aware of this fact might help you be more attentive to your driving habits and avoid acting out on impulse behind the wheel.
What are the legal consequences of road rage?
In the state of Michigan, reckless driving, which occurs when a person drives “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison if it causes “serious impairment of a body function to another person.” (MCL 257.626(2) and (3)) Reckless driving is punishable by up to 15 years in prison if it “causes the death of another person.” (MCL 257.626(4).
What are the signs of road rage?
- Honking in anger
- Making angry gestures
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
- Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
- Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose
What Are the Health Effects of Road Rage?
Although road rage may make us more likely to have an accident, there are additional dangers as well. Road ragers might be at increased risk of health problems as a result of their high levels of stress, tension, and anger. Acute stress episodes can become chronic stress and chronic muscular pain caused by tense muscles, resulting in a slew of adverse health effects, including:
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
Not to mention all of the other personal issues that occur and the risk of legal difficulties or, worse, a fatality.
In conclusion, by understanding the causes and effects of road rage, we can help keep ourselves and others safe on the road. If you find yourself in a situation where you are the victim of road rage, try to diffuse the situation if you can, and if you can’t, get yourself to safety as quickly as possible.