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My Road Rage Is Out Of Control

by David
(Jupiter, FL)

I apologize for the length of this post. I have a tremendous problem with road rage. My road rage stems from other drivers who are inconsiderate or who do not drive properly.

Over the past week I have been involved in two incidents involving road rage. In my entire driving career there have been 5 road rage incidents that have involved me arguing with another driver and countless others that involved erratic driving during the incident.

Today I was involved in an incident that I want to be the very last one. Road rage affects my emotions and scares me due to the dangers I present to innocent drivers and the people that my anger is targeted at.

I wish I could draw the following as it is complicated to explain: I was driving north on U.S. 441 between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (roughly four miles apart). The road is two lanes in both directions divided by a river. Due to a rockslide in the southbound lanes of the highway in Pigeon Forge, both southbound lanes were closed and one of the northbound lanes was converted into a southbound lane for a mile or two before southbound traffic was diverted back over the river into the normal southbound lanes after the rockslide.

Due to this fiasco, traffic in the northbound lanes was backed up tremendously all the way to Gatlinburg. Here lies the problem. After driving through the city limits of Gatlinburg I quickly encountered a line of cars backed up in the right lane. I continued in the left lane for another three miles or so (I know from previously driving on the same stretch of the road where the left lane ends), passing probably over a hundred cars with one or two behind me. A mile before the left lane ended, I pulled up behind two Ford pickups both from Louisiana who were straddling both lanes trying to block traffic in the left lane.

I honked, and after a while bluffed going around them. When the left lane finally ended, I merged, to the detest of drivers in the right lane. I tried to maintain composure but after driving the rest of the way in single file traffic into Pigeon Forge I quickly sped up to the first truck with my window rolled down ready to confront them, a man and his son.

They didn't respond. I drove ahead and confronted the second truck. I barely cut off a minivan which I feel horrible about to reach the second truck, but I could not control myself. The other truck contained what I assume to be the man's wife and daughter. The lady already had her window rolled down and was giving me the finger. We started yelling at each other, with me trying to make her understand the concept of merging.

After not getting anywhere we eventually rolled up our windows. Another driver who was mad at me in a Chevrolet Suburban was tailgating me, and I tried to confront him too but he refused to respond. I then pulled into a pharmacy parking lot to calm down and the incident was over.

After all of this mayhem I felt horrible about not being able to control my anger. Though I am responsible for my aggressive driving after encountering the two trucks, I cannot see how I was in the wrong by staying in the left lane until it merged with the right lane. Incidents such as these cause me tremendous stress because I don't know how to respond to them.

I am an excellent driver, and have not been involved in any accidents. I use my turn signal, obey traffic signals, stay in the right lane except when passing, and obey the speed limit. I cannot seem to control my anger when other drivers do not do the same, and I am worried someday something catastrophic may happen. I want today to be the last time. I want to be able to drive calmly but I don't know how to do it anymore.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hi David, and thanks for submitting your story on this site. It's great that you want to manage your anger better, so that the road rage doesn't continue. It is clear that your behavior doesn't match up with how you want to be, which is why you are looking for help. You know you're better than that--not to mention the fact that you want to avoid a catastrophe.

If you're really serious about this, you'll do everything I recommend. I don't have to tell you how dangerous your road rage problem is for you and others--you seem to be very aware of that.

I see that you submitted your story on the road rage web page, so I assume you read the suggestions on that page. If not, be sure and do that.

Also, I suggest you deal with your anger by trying to get back to the cause. For that purpose, try the journaling techniques on this page, which will perhaps help you get in touch with where your anger came from. I strongly encourage you to do this. I think your anger has a history, and you need to know what it is in order to heal it.

Then, I suggest you use these imagery processes for emotional healing, if that seems to apply to your situation.

On a daily basis, to better manage your anger, do the anger journaling process on this page.

And finally, before getting in the car for any trip--no matter how short--do these exercises:

1) Picture yourself driving with total courtesy toward other drivers. Watch yourself staying calm when other drivers do things that bother you. Visualize yourself breathing deeply, even with a slight smile on your face. This will help, if you do it.

2) Then imagine yourself doing all of the above, but this time instead of picturing it, you are imagining it happening.

These are powerful tools that will help you to heal and change your behavior. Like any tools, the more you use them the better they will work for you.

Believe in yourself, David. Make up your mind that you want your behavior behind the wheel to match with the good person you are inside. How other people drive is none of your business. Keep your focus on your driving and your own emotions.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Comments for My Road Rage Is Out Of Control

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May 18, 2017
Your Driving Is Always About You
by: Anonymous

Hi David,
I admire your self-honesty and feel you must be fairly close to alleviating this problem by virtue of the fact that you are posting it to countless people.

What stood out to me in your post was this comment: ." My road rage stems from other drivers who are inconsiderate or who do not drive properly".

My assertion is that your road rage stems not from other drivers, but from yourself. Other drivers will forever more drive in unsafe and frustrating ways. That's a given for us when we are on the road.

What you do about those other drivers is the key. What you do around those drivers is the key. Most of them have no idea you are even getting pissed off about them. Your rage toward them doesn't matter; they don't know about it. Your rage is exploded and swirling around about you in your own car. So you get your rage coming from inside you, and you get doubled down on your rage on the outside of you once you've expressed it.

Your rage is probably displaced, caused by something else in your life. It almost doesn't matter where it comes from. If you tell yourself you have to resolve this rage and all its history before your problem will be solved, your problem will most likely not be solved. I hope you can let go of any "why" and "how" thoughts you think about this and work on, with help, the behavior itself.

Knowing the behavior is yours, and is caused by you, lets you know you are the only one who can resolve it. You can't wait until every other person on the road shapes up. That will never happen.

I hope you are soon helped by comments in this section and will be actually enjoying driving soon without having to have the other drivers drive a certain way. Then you can relax. All other drivers will drive poorly at some point. Even you. Don't have your driving be about them. Have it be about you. Because it is. Take care!

Mar 12, 2017
My Road Rage Has Me Scared Of Driving
by: Anonymous

Living in New York City, these things can happen pretty frequently. I was once coming back from Brooklyn on I-278, and one driver came in at high speed really close, and passed me closely. I honked for 10-20 seconds, then tried to chase him down to get his license plate #, neglecting all the other cars in traffic at 50-55mph.

Another time, I was flashed and honked by an Audi behind me while there were cars in front of me. I almost got out of the car to confront that person. My dad was the passenger, and he was pulling my arm to stop me from getting out of my car.

Coming back from New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel, one coach bus almost clipped my right mirror trying to pass me as the lanes were merging. I laid my horn for literally a minute.

I understand these things happen, but for me my rage has gotten out of control. I heard that road rage is getting worse now than ever, but I didn't think I would turn into a savage at times. I didn't think it would be at a point where I would put the safety of myself and others as secondary. And I usually spark due to stupidity and ignorance on the road. I'm not like that in my other parts of life.

My dad is concerned as well as I am. I haven't driven my car in about a month now, and I'm contemplating on selling it. I don't want to, but my rage has got out of control and I wasn't like that a year or two ago. I used to enjoy driving, going on long trips, going on dates, etc. Now I'm scared to do any of that by car. I need help.

I'm a 21 year old male college student

May 05, 2016
Thumbs Up!
by: Mark

There was no traffic as I drove into the left lane, at night in a residential area. Suddenly, a Miata convertible passed me real close at high speed, using the oncoming lane to do so. I gave a quick, single flash of my brights, a 'ZAP!' ray, to let him know I didn't like being cut off.

As I signaled for a right turn ahead, he slowed down and stopped, blocking me. My heart pounded, thinking these were gang members, looking for trouble. I sat for 20 seconds, then slowly drove around them, not gesturing or making eye contact. They probably had a gun.

My mother and girlfriend were in the car, and saw the driver flipping me the bird as we passed. He followed, then drove on as we entered a retirement community. I did not realize that letting my emotion get the better of me put our lives in danger. We could have been shot.

I feel awful now at my foolish reaction, and try to just "let them go" and now, at worst, give a mocking 'thumbs-up' to bad drivers. I'll smile to myself, and say, "Yeah, Ok,...nice move buddy. Way to go," and leave it at that.

After doing this a few times, I get accustomed to doing it, and feel more in control. Good habits, like bad ones, need to be practiced. Thank you, all.

Sep 04, 2015
To Vanessa
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi Vanessa

Thanks for your well written story, and your honest self examination. I think you will be a better driver, just because you took the time to think through things and write them out as you did.

Here are a couple of other exercises you may find helpful:

1) Use these exercises to mentally rehearse how you want to drive each day before driving. Use your friend who is a positive role model to help you imagine yourself driving exactly like you want to.

2) Write a letter to your dad (I realize he's passed away...this is only for you). Tell him everything you appreciate about him and choose to keep. Then tell him in great detail what you picked up from him that you choose not to keep. Then visualize yourself literally giving all of that rage and those bad driving habits back to him.

This will help you, Vanessa. I can tell you're a very good person, and soon your driving will reflect that on a consistent basis.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Sep 04, 2015
Is It The Need For Total Control?
by: Vanessa

I'm so glad for those posting here as being aware of our anger and wanting to change shows that we care about ourselves and others. And Jason, it is commendable that you want to deal with your anger as your children model themselves on you and will copy your behaviours when they grow up. I know this because I'm doing exactly what my father used to do! He saw himself as a very good driver (he was a truck driver) and was impatient with any drivers that showed any lack of skill or made mistakes. His attitude was that he was helping others to learn to be better drivers by getting angry with them and yelling at them, but reality was he was just being a jerk, frightening people and creating more dangerous situations on the road.

And now I am older and I am just the same as him; impatient, angry, I gesture, yell, stare, I speed and tailgate, I’m aggressive on the road and do impulsive things, etc, and when I think other drivers don't drive properly, I lose it, and it has to stop as it is not only arrogant, stupid and dangerous but it escalates and I'm concerned that one day I will go too far and cause an accident or hurt somebody or get beaten up, or worse – there is no good outcome from road rage; people don’t "learn" from it, people often get freaked out, frightened, injured and worse, it is a ridiculously pointless thing to engage in.

Today I am looking for help online as I have just lost control at another driver on the freeway and I tailgated them at high speed and carried on, and when I got home I realised what an utterly stupid idiot I was to do that, what if they were elderly or just inexperienced, what if I caused them to panic and swerve into traffic, why do I think it’s okay to basically pick a fight with them (from the safety of my car, mind you, how cowardly is that)? Why do I do this?

Well, I know that I am more likely to get angry at other drivers if I am feeling unhappy or frustrated with my life, and this translates to easy anger on the road. It is like I think I need total control over everything and if I can't have it then I get angry. Like today on the freeway, I’d been having an awful day, feeling down and depressed, and I was driving home from the supermarket when a small car pulled out in front of me and slowed the traffic, I lost it, I couldn't get over what bad driving it was, but really, who am I to judge? Sure, it was probably a bad decision on their part, but why did I think I had the right to then tailgate them and carry on flashing my lights, etc, what kind of good driving is that? We were driving at high speed and I could have caused a terrible accident. Why do I think every driver on the road should drive perfectly? It's an unrealistic expectation. And I must understand that I don't control the road, or other people, or even myself sometimes as I'm sure my driving is far less than perfect too. I know that I am copying my father's anger and I don't want to do that anymore.

So today I’ve been thinking, if I’m modelling myself on dad and in this case it’s not a good role model, then maybe I should try to change and model myself on someone else who I’d like to drive like. I remember being a passenger in my sister-in-law's car and she was driving and several drivers did stupid things on the trip, causing her to have to brake hard, etc, but she calmly did what she needed to do to avoid any collisions and said nothing, never skipped a beat in our conversation, it was like she accepted that people sometimes drive poorly and that she has control of her car and that’s what she’ll do, drive her own car well in the situation where others may not drive so well. She was calm, she was being a safe, generous and thoughtful driver - maybe that's really what good driving is rather than mere skill, it's about driving calmly and well whatever the circumstances. Anyway, the way she drove, it was something I hadn't seen before. I’ve never forgotten it. And that’s how I want to be.

I also think of other drivers, they are a varied lot, some are young, some old, some good drivers, some poor drivers, some inexperienced drivers, people who are under stress, people with a lot on their minds, etc. I am one of them and I make mistakes too. Maybe those of us with road rage tendencies need to accept that we ourselves are not perfect, we cannot control everything, and that road rage behaviours are arrogant and unsafe. Safety and road rage don’t go together and I can’t say that I’m a safe driver if I’m angry, that’s the bottom line. It’s taken me a long time to get this into my head, that angry driving is not safe or good driving.

Before I go out on the road again, I will get my attitude straight: I’m an imperfect driver just like everyone else, if others drive not so well then I will accept that, express my frustration to myself maybe with a bit of humour and be calm – and I don’t mean totally perfectly calm, that’s unrealistic, I mean have a swear and a joke to myself and let it go, or just say ‘whatever’ to myself and let it go.

Does anyone else have any tips for calm driving? Please share them. Thanks for letting me write this, it has helped today, as I was very upset with myself. It’s like I lost control today, and I feel so sick inside for the way I treated that other driver. I don’t want to be like this anymore.

Feb 12, 2015
It's Good That You're Concerned
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi Jason

I'm glad you are reaching out here. You've made it clear that your problem is serious, and you're right to be concerned about how it is affecting your son.

Your assessment of other people's driving is accurate. That's just the way it is. That's not going to change.

The question is, how are you going to remain in charge of your own emotions and actions when you're driving? You need to manage your anger for yourself and your family, and that fact is independent of how other people drive.

You're a smart man. You can do this. Here is what I suggest:

Do these journaling and imagery exercises to help you understand the origins of your anger, and to begin your healing process. These are powerful tools, Jason, and the more you use them the better they will work for you.

This will not be easy, but it will be a whole lot easier than continuing with your current pattern. I promise you, if you use these tools as recommended, on a consistent and ongoing basis for at least 6 months, you will get some good results.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Feb 12, 2015
I'm Concerned About My Road Rage Affecting My Son
by: Jason

My name is Jason and I'm a married father of one, (1 year old). I am 34 years old and have had road rage for a long while now. I don't remember having it so much when I was younger, say 16 to 20, but after that it jumped out of control. It has become especially worse now that my son is constantly with me in the back seat of my truck. (Thank God I have a large Tundra Crew-Max truck so he's safer)

No matter where it is on the road, I encounter ignorant people and their driving, or should I say, lack thereof driving skills. Whether it's no signals, texting and driving, constantly turning around to fool with something in the backseat, or running red-lights or stop signs, it turns me from Hyde to Jekyll.

I have only had one incident where I confronted a driver outside of my vehicle at a red light. A young kid, possibly 16-17 years old, changed lanes from behind me with no signal while I was in the middle of my lane change. He flipped me off, sped up to easily 60+mph in a 45 mph zone and cut off another lady ahead of me by passing her in the emergency lane almost running off the road.

I caught up with him at the light and banged on his window telling him to flick me off again. The lady that he cut off confronted him as well and said that she would call the police on him.

Other than this, I mostly curse people out, flick them off or throw my hands up in disgust.

I worry most of all for my son's safety when I do this because people are crazy, but also worry about him picking up my anger on the road. I don't want him to emulate me in that manner. I try to ignore people and I always drive safely. I use signals almost too much (even in parking lots), but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I also used to be in Law Enforcement so I had to look for these types of bad drivers all the time while on patrol.

I don't exactly know where all of this anger stems from, but it's getting worse and worse, and I honestly worry about my blood pressure. It puts me into a horrible mood for a remainder of the day and causes a large amount of stress in my life.

Again, I try to breathe, I try to relax, I try to close my eyes at a red light to meditate for 5-10 seconds, but nothing works. The more I ignore people, the more I see happening around me. I guess one thing that bothers me is that I am so safe and take so much precaution on the road, that it's hard to watch people take such risks to make it through an intersection just to get to work 45 seconds early, or turn into a gas station one mile down the road.

Something has to give. My wife and others are concerned about me when I get on the road because of this. They tell me to try and ignore others and 'not care' about their stupidity. Even something as simple as people taking up two parking spots, or parking in a handicapped spot with no tags to get a beer or coke at the store sets me off. Is it just people's lack of consideration?

Please help!

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