August, National Win With Civility Month, gives us the opportunity to discuss everyday occurrences where being civil can help us take control of a potentially messy situation and keep things…well, civil. It could be sharing your new book with your significant other instead of starting an argument. Or it could be taking a few deep breaths to keep your composure when you’re starting to show signs of road rage.
We’ve all felt the irritation bubbling, threatening to crack our cool and calm facade when we see a careless driver weaving in and out of traffic. That ire peaks when they cut you off without even using their signal, almost causing an accident. What you do in the next few moments could change the course of your day, maybe even your life.
The Rising Road Rage Problem
We know that a lot of people are choosing to engage in road rage related behavior instead of “winning with civility”. AAA reports that there were over 10,000 occurrences of road rage in a seven year period with approximately 218 deaths. And incidents seem to be on their way up—170% up since 2007, in fact, according to the Department of Transportation.
Rational Thinking Goes Out the Window
One of the major problems hindering the effort to “win with civility” is that rational thinking often goes out the window when you’re in a rage. You are always responsible for your own actions, not those of anyone else. That means you have a responsibility to be civil at all times, no matter how the other person is reacting. But we know it’s hard to think about any other rational thought, like slowing down or avoiding the car, other than giving the driver a piece of your mind. So how do you stop yourself from going over the edge?
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Instead of letting the situation get out of control, take a few deep breaths to regain your composure. Telling yourself to take a few deep breaths before things heat up can often diffuse a volatile situation before your frustration takes a hold of you. Remember to slow things down and take a few deep breaths. Most of the time a couple of seconds to breathe is all it takes to feel more in control and more civil towards another person.
Stay in Your Car
If you’re already engaging in road rage behavior like speeding to catch up to the car that provoked the incident or actively cutting off the car to get back at them, the process can be difficult to stop. In this situation, remember to always stay in your car. Doing so can keep you protected and prevent you from causing harm to someone else. If necessary, pull over to the side of the road, keep your doors locked and take the keys out of your ignition.
Keep Yourself Honest
Just because you don’t have a cell phone in your hand doesn’t mean you’re giving your full attention to the task at hand. When you’re driving with road rage, you’re driving distracted. Start making it a habit during National Win With Civility Month to make a conscious decision to drive with your full focus on the road, not on the car that cut you off. Now, repeat after us, “I will not drive distracted”…