If you regularly operate a motor vehicle, it is likely that you have personally experienced road rage. You may have become overwhelmed by heightened emotions because of road conditions that were out of your control. Or, you may have unwittingly triggered another driver’s anger, and were subjected to their road rage as a result. The fact is, road rage is such a common phenomenon that it is generally accepted to be an expected reality of the road. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by State Farm Canada, one in three Canadians admit to being victims of road rage at least once a month.

Although Canadians have an international reputation for being polite and level-headed, less than half of the survey’s participants admitted to staying calm when faced with another road-user’s poor driving. Road rage is an increasingly dangerous pattern of behaviour behind the wheel. Drivers are subjected to many frustrations on the road, such as congested traffic, unexpected delays, inclement weather, construction, and the sometimes-irritating behaviour of other drivers. Facing any one of these annoyances while performing an already stressful activity like operating a high-speed motor vehicle can cause drivers to suddenly switch gears, emotionally. 

Frustration on the road may be commonplace, but when it escalates to reckless and even violent, anger-fueled behaviour, the consequences can be devastating. Aggressive driving is a contributing factor to many motor vehicle collisions. Road rage can lead to fatal accidents, life-altering injuries, and criminal charges. 

In early March 2021, multiple serious charges– including attempted murder– were laid against a young man from Halifax County after what police referred to as “a road rage incident.” As it so happens, men between the ages of 19-39 are the demographic most likely to engage in aggressive behaviours on the road. 

As the seasons change from winter to spring and weather conditions become more favourable, incidents of road rage begin to increase in regularity. In fact, collisions caused by road rage occur most frequently in the summer months

If you recognize yourself as a person who is easily set off by other drivers’ behaviour, or someone who experiences heightened anxiety behind the wheel that quickly turns to anger, practicing a few calming techniques and recognizing common triggers of road rage may help prevent tragedies from happening. Furthermore, if you have been the victim of another driver’s road rage, and sustained injuries as the result of a collision they caused, a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer may be able to help you pursue financial compensation for your losses.

Being Mindful Behind the Wheel 

Recent motor vehicle accident statistics in Nova Scotia reveal that collisions causing injuries and fatalities are on an alarming upward trend. Curbing certain behaviours and attitudes behind the wheel could help reduce the number of Nova Scotians injured each year as the result of aggressive driving. 

Even though you cannot control the behaviour of other drivers of the road, you can control how you react to frustrations while driving. Staying mindful and level-headed can save lives. That said, it can take some practice to stay calm behind the wheel, especially during moments of heightened anxiety and emotion. 

Some tips for staying relaxed while driving include:

  • 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.
  • 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 more recklessly. Relaxing music can help drivers stay calm and 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.
  • 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, it may increase your own frustration levels as well.
  • Focus on your breath: Active relaxation while driving may sound paradoxical, but it is an important skill to learn for maintaining a calm demeanour in triggering situations. Simple breathing exercises can release tension, plentifully oxygenate the blood, and create a mindful focal point to take attention away from negative thoughts. These breathing exercises may be familiar to those who regularly practice yoga but can be applied in everyday situations to reduce stress levels.
  • Have a sense of humour: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” This classic, humorous observation by comedian George Carlin is a reminder for every driver on the road to keep things in perspective. It is important to remember that other drivers are people and are not intentionally trying to ruin your day. Simply accepting that when you get behind the wheel you will likely encounter something irritating can make a world of difference in your attitude. Cognitive-behavioural interventions– like having a sense of humour about irritations on the road– can help keep your emotions from boiling over into anger.
  • 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.

Common Road Rage Triggers 

Even the most mindful, level-headed driver can be triggered by other drivers’ behaviours on the road, especially when that behaviour is dangerous or aggressive. A key to controlling road rage is being mindful of its most common triggers. These include:

  • Tailgating: 30% of surveyed Canadian drivers cite tailgating as their most common trigger of road rage. When another vehicle follows your car too closely, you may be vulnerable to a rear-end collision as a result of their aggressive driving. 
  • Getting cut off: Vehicles that merge into your lane suddenly and without warning can cause you to react quickly. Swerving to avoid them or slamming on your brakes could cause a collision with another driver. 
  • 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 trigger heightened emotions.

As difficult as it may be to stay calm when your anger is triggered by these or other dangerous habits, remaining in control of your emotions may help you avoid a collision and could even prevent serious injuries. 

Possible Effects of Road Rage in Nova Scotia 

Another driver’s road rage can cause fatal collisions. Road rage can also result in injury-causing accidents. Some common injuries resulting from car accidents include:

  • Whiplash
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Internal organ damage
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • And more

Nova Scotia’s Insurance Act stipulates that all motor vehicle operators on the province’s roads must provide a reasonable duty of care to other drivers. This means, everyone must practice safe driving habits and reasonable caution on the road at all times. Failing to fulfill this duty of reasonable care by violating traffic laws could constitute driver negligence.

If you were injured in a collision that was caused by another driver’s negligence, it can be difficult to know what actions to take next, or where to turn for accountability. In these situations, a Nova Scotia 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’re eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.

For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 902-405-8282.