Whilst many of us enjoy driving for work, it can be a demanding and stressful activity. Having to get to an important meeting, making an urgent delivery, even driving home after a taxing day can be stressful. Plus, there are the non-work related factors such as money, health and relationships that can have an adverse impact on your state of mind.
Before you get behind the wheel, you should be fit, relaxed and rested. This helps ensure you have a responsible attitude to other road users. It also helps ensure you have high levels of concentration, observation and anticipation.
If you drive whilst feeling impatient, aggressive or selfish then that has a negative impact on how you drive. You’ll be inclined to take risks such as speeding, undertaking, tailgating and even jumping lights. You’ll also be more inclined to let the red mist descend when you perceive other drivers to have made errors.
There are plenty of ways to keep calm before you start driving, and here are just a few suggestions on dealing with, and avoiding ‘road rage’:
- Plan ahead – Allow yourself plenty of time and check online for traffic updates before you start. Also, make sure of the route you want to take. Uncertainty around how and when you will reach your destination can make you feel tense.
- Don’t overreact – If you see another driver make an error, just concentrate on driving well and within the law. The other driver may be unaware of their actions.
- Avoid conflict – Some drivers will be looking for a reaction or conflict. Focus on your own driving and don’t ‘compete’ with other drivers.
- Think logically – If an irate driver confronts you, don’t engage in gestures such as shaking your head or sounding your horn. This will exacerbate the situation and distract you from driving responsibly.
- Don’t make eye contact with angry drivers – This can only make things worse!
- Don’t let yourself be ‘pushed along’ – If you’re being ‘tailgated’ don’t let yourself be intimidated or increase your speed. Don’t pull over or stop, but just find a safe place to allow that driver to pass. For example, circumnavigating a roundabout to enable a tailgater to pass will only add a tiny amount of time to your journey, but it will significantly reduce your stress levels.
- Do not allow an angry driver to follow you to your destination – If you are being persistently followed, try to drive to a public place or a police station. Never allow them to follow you to your place of work or home.
- Never get out of the car – If confronted with a road rage situation remain in the car with the windows closed and doors locked. Getting out of the car only serves to endanger your safety and well-being.
- Admit your mistakes – We all make errors occasionally, but you can diffuse the situation by just raising a hand in acknowledgement and taking responsibility.
- Take a break – If anything happens during the journey that affects your mood, find an opportunity to stop and take a break.
- Look back – Finally, try to find a bit of time to reflect on your driving. Think about how your mood and stress levels have influenced your behaviour whilst driving.
Developing a strong understanding of the human factors that can cause accidents is vital for line managers. RoSPA’s Driver Behaviour – a Line Managers Role course does exactly that. It will help you reduce incident costs and downtime. As well as helping ensure you and your drivers stay calm when driving for work.
RoSPA Fleet Safety are working to reduce occupational road risk using innovative, behaviour-based solutions. Our goal is to be the global leader in driver and fleet safety.