5 tips on how to control your temper during road rage

  • Deekshita Baruah, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 11:54 IST

Just days ago, drivers of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) went on a strike to protest the murder of one of their colleagues, who was allegedly beaten to death by a motorcyclist in a case of road rage.

Ashok Kumar, a father of two children, succumbed to serious internal injuries after he was bashed up mercilessly by the biker when his motorcycle was grazed by the bus he was driving.

Sounds horrific, right? But road rage is something that each one of us faces on a daily basis. And how do we react to it? Either by muttering a string of profanities at the driver or engaging in fist fights. It is very rare that you come across somebody who maintains his/her cool.

And with summer beating down hard on us, flaring tempers are not unusual.

Here are a few tips on how to maintain your composure while driving:

*Weigh its worth
Whenever you are facing such a situation always calculate whether your anger is worth the crisis.

Dr Prachi, a clinical psychologist at Artemis Hospitals, says, "Avoid blame game and finger pointing in such situations. Ask yourself - what can you do now that the mishap's already happened? Will shouting undo the damage? Yes, it is painful and annoying to see one's favourite car being damaged, but be grateful that you are safe. Imagine how it would be if you got hurt, damaged your body or were confined to bed for months? You can get a new car but can you get a new body, at any cost?"

It takes practice to control one's temper, but it is never too late to start thinking along these lines. To inculcate this attitude, develop the habit of expressing gratitude daily.

*Recognise signs of anger
Most of the time, road rage incidents are the result of bottled up emotions.

"They take place because you are already angry with somebody in your personal life. The accident only becomes an outlet to your suppressed feelings," says Dr Achal Bhagat, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist with Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

Recognise early physical signs of anger like clenching of fists/teeth, feeling hot in the neck/face.

It's understandable that your reactions will be more intense in such a situation. It is vital that you keep your head clear. Too many thoughts are only going to worsen things for you. At times when you are finding it difficult to control your thoughts, just concentrate on your breath.


It takes practice to control one's temper, but it is never too late to start thinking along these lines. To inculcate this attitude, develop the habit of expressing gratitude daily. (Shutterstock)

*Step back and reflect
How one reacts to that simple scratch or a significant damage needs to be put in perspective.

Dr Prachi says, "A colleague of mine had his car badly smashed in a road accident, to the extent that the car was in the garage for nearly a month and he was commuting by taxi. But he did not respond with road rage. When I asked him how he controlled himself the response was: Dr Prachi, I was returning from a meeting where I was given the best speaker's award at an international forum. The joy was immense and I thought of celebrating my success rather than brood over the damaged car!"

"As is rightly said, it's a matter of perspective. You can choose to see the glass half full or half empty. It's your choice!"

Always reflect on what is important in the long run. Also, practice a little compassion. Start small and remember that the other person is only human. Consider the fact that you both are suffering in the situation. Try to resolve it in a logical manner.

*Use a softer tone
Now, you may not agree with us, but it is scientifically proven that softer tones/music helps in cognitive restructuring or learning how to appropriately analyse negative situations. Just try, it will immediately bring down your anger.

Dr Kersi Chavda, consultant psychiatrist, PD Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Mumbai says, "While driving, we are using a lethal weapon which can be life threatening. Controlling one's emotions and anger is totally in our hands and it is important to not lose one's calm in such situations. Something that I always advise is talking in a tone softer than usual."

*Don't drive under the influence
You have heard this a zillion times. But there is actually a valid reason behind asking you to abstain from it while you are driving.

Let's take the example of a 35-year-old-businessman who was thrashed brutally in west Delhi by three drunken men during a road rage. While one of the accused has been arrested, the other two are still absconding. Now, you would not want to be in his shoes right?

Dr Bhagat says, "Alcohol and any other addiction will only aggravate anger and make you more vulnerable to anger issues. It is advisable that you do not touch any form of intoxication before you start driving."

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