Driving in Ontario can be stressful. Whether you regularly operate a motor vehicle through congested city streets with hectic rush hour traffic or have slowed to a crawl because of construction on the province’s 400-series highways, it is likely you have experienced frustration behind the wheel. In high-stress situations, like driving a car in less than ideal road conditions, it may only take a small incident to change a person’s frustration into aggressive rage.
Road rage is a pervasive nationwide problem. Increased suburbanization and insufficient transportation infrastructure across the entire country puts many commuters in extremely stressful situations almost daily. And even though Canadians may have an international reputation for politeness, statistically speaking, that may not be the case behind the wheels of our cars. The results of a study conducted by State Farm Canada reveal that one in three Canadians experience road rage at least once a month. Less than half of that study’s participants believe they would stay calm if they encountered a dangerous driver on the road.
Although road rage is a seemingly unavoidable phenomenon on Ontario’s roads, it is not a state of mind drivers should anticipate or tolerate. Road rage is dangerous. When a driver’s irritation escalates to anger-fueled recklessness, the consequences can be devastating. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) report that, in recent years, fatalities caused by aggressive driving have skyrocketed by 80%. Road rage can lead to fatal accidents, life-altering injuries, and criminal charges.
If you are easily angered by other drivers’ behaviour or experience heightened anxiety that quickly turns to anger while driving, it is important to recognize common triggers of road rage. You might also benefit from practicing cognitive-behavioural interventions to help prevent collisions caused by road rage.
If you have been the victim of another driver’s road rage and sustained injuries as the result of a collision they caused, an Ontario car accident lawyer may be able to help you pursue financial compensation for your losses.
Possible Causes of Road Rage
A key to controlling road rage is being mindful of its most common triggers. Even the most patient, cool-headed driver can be set off by another drivers’ behaviour on the road, especially when that behaviour is dangerous or aggressive.
Common behaviours that tend to trigger road rage in Canadian drivers include:
- Being cut off by another vehicle: When another vehicle suddenly swerves into your lane without signalling or giving you enough space and time to respond, you may react instinctively to avoid a collision with them. You might feel the need to swerve suddenly or slam on your brakes. This unexpected shock could easily trigger panic and anger.
- Distracted driving: Seeing another driver talking on their cell phone, texting while driving, eating at high speeds, or committing other irresponsible actions in their vehicles can cause responsible drivers to experience heightened anxiety, especially if the other driver’s distractedness puts you at risk of injury.
- Tailgating: When another vehicle follows your car too closely, you may be vulnerable to a rear-end collision as a result of their aggressive driving. That may be why 30% of surveyed Canadian drivers cite tailgating as their most common cause of road rage.
Collisions caused by road rage occur most frequently in the summer months. Typically, people tend to drive with more caution and patience in snowy, icy conditions, but when the seasons change and the weather becomes more favourable, drivers tend to operate their vehicles faster and with more recklessness. That is why incidents of road rage occur more frequently when the weather is hotter.
Being aware of common causes of road rage and the season in which it frequently occurs could be a first step to overcoming it altogether. However, it can be very difficult to keep your emotions in check if you encounter another driver’s dangerous habits. It is important to practice mindful habits behind the wheel to stay in control of your emotions. Doing so might even help you avoid serious, injury-causing collisions.
Tips for Remaining Calm Behind the Wheel
In Ontario, serious accidents caused by road rage and aggressive driving are on the rise. Life-altering physical injuries and even fatalities can be caused simply due to an inability to keep one’s emotions in check during stressful situations. Drivers should be able to operate their vehicles with alertness without letting their caution or irritation cloud their judgment.
When rage overtakes a driver’s emotions, they can suddenly act in ways they never thought themselves capable of, and momentarily lose themselves in their anger. When this happens at high speeds behind the wheel of a powerful vehicle, lives can be shattered and lost.
While you have no control over the behaviour of other drivers on the road, you have the capacity to control your own behaviours and attitudes. Of course, as anyone who has personally experienced road rage can attest, staying calm under pressure may not come naturally. It might take practice to curb frustrations and stay relaxed during moments of increased anxiety.
Some tips for controlling road rage include:
- Report dangerous behaviour: If you witness reckless behaviour on the road, such as distracted driving, rather than letting your emotions run away with you, consider reporting this dangerous driving to the police.
- Use your horn only when necessary: Your vehicle’s horn is intended to alert other drivers to your presence, not to vent your frustration. Leaning on this safety feature for the wrong reasons can have unintended consequences. Not only might it provoke the anger of another driver, but it may also increase your own frustration levels as well.
- Give yourself plenty of time: When we are in a rush to get from Point A to Point B, our emotions can get the best of us. Anxiety caused by unexpected traffic delays can quickly turn to anger, especially when we are running behind schedule or are hurrying to make it to our destination on time. To avoid this unnecessary stress, plan your trip ahead of time. Check the traffic conditions on your preferred location app to make sure you have enough time to get to your destination and to prepare the route you are going to take before getting behind the wheel.
- Focus on your breath: Simple breathing exercises can release tension, plentifully oxygenate the blood, and create a mindful focal point to take attention away from negative thoughts. Relaxing breathing exercises may be familiar to those who regularly practice yoga but can be applied in everyday situations to reduce stress levels.
- Listen to calming music, podcasts, or audiobooks: Music influences our emotions and colours our experiences on the road. Listening to loud, up-tempo music can elevate a driver’s heart rate, subtly influencing them to drive faster or with less caution. Relaxing music can help drivers stay patient when operating their vehicles in frustrating situations. Additionally, listening to podcasts or audiobooks in heavily congested areas can help keep your mind active, engaged, and entertained as you move through bumper-to-bumper traffic.
- Have a sense of humour: Instead of getting angry about another person’s poor driving, choose to laugh it off. Cognitive-behavioural interventions– like having a sense of humour about irritations on the road– can help keep your emotions from boiling over into anger. Accepting the fact that you will most likely encounter something irritating while you are driving can radically impact your attitude. It is important to remember that other drivers are people and are not intentionally trying to ruin your day.
The Consequences of Road Rage in Ontario
Another driver’s road rage can cause fatal collisions. Road rage can also result in accidents that cause serious injuries. Some common injuries resulting from car accidents include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- And more
Ontario’s Insurance Act stipulates that all motor vehicle operators in the province must provide a reasonable duty of care to other drivers. This means that everyone must always practice safe driving habits and reasonable caution on the road. Shirking this duty of reasonable care by driving aggressively or violating other traffic laws could constitute driver negligence.
If you were injured in a collision that was caused by another driver’s negligence, an Ontario car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover financial compensation for damages you incurred as a result of your injuries. These damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- Pain and suffering
- And possibly more
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers if You Have Been Hurt in a Car Accident
If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver’s road rage, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for damages you incurred. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you are eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers today at 1-800-JUSTICE.