Everyone gets frustrated from time to time, especially when driving. Although driving can be exciting and freeing, it can also be nerve-wracking and even anger-inducing. If you find yourself getting frustrated on the road, this article is for you. Below, we dive into the causes of road rage and the risks of driving frustrated. We also provide some expert-approved tips to help you handle frustration when driving and information on the importance of learning good driver habits.
Road rage explained
First, what is road rage? Road rage is a term that refers to anger one experiences while driving. This anger can be caused by a variety of perceived inconveniences and incidents and may manifest itself in retaliatory ways, such as one driver cutting off another. Of course, it can also manifest itself in internal frustration, leading a driver to yell or shout expletives at another driver from their car. While every driver is different, some of the most common forms of road rage are as follows: yelling, honking, tailgating, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, blocking traffic to prevent a driver from changing lanes, cutting off another driver, following another driver, driving on a sidewalk or median, intentionally ramming other vehicles, and verbally or physically confronting another driver outside or inside your car by rolling the window down.
The risks of frustrated driving
Although most ways that road rage manifests itself may seem harmless, such as yelling or honking, if left unchecked, it could escalate to retaliatory or aggressive driving habits which can have serious consequences, even leading to auto accidents or death. This is why it is crucial to get your road rage under control. Frustrated driving may not be against the law, but it’s still dangerous. In fact, some road safety experts believe that driving while angry is just as risky as distracted or impaired driving. Some of the unique risks that come with frustrated driving include:
- Zoning out
- Driving recklessly
- Focusing on other vehicles or drivers instead of the road
The risks mentioned above are all too common and as mentioned, can have severe consequences, like getting into an auto accident. Further, if your road rage ends up resulting in a driving infraction, you could end up incurring a fine, losing demerit points, or paying more for car insurance. You might even need to purchase high-risk auto insurance, which can be extremely expensive.
The most common reasons that Canadian drivers get frustrated behind the wheel
Now that you know what road rage is and how it manifests itself, let’s dive deeper into why Canadian drivers get frustrated in the first place. There are many reasons that a driver may become frustrated on the road, some of which may directly relate to their driving experience and others that may have nothing at all to do with the road. A few of the most common reasons Canadian motorists experience road rage are as follows:
The actions of other drivers
The actions of other drivers are another common reason behind road rage. If you’ve ever been cut off when trying to merge or witnessed someone driving erratically, you know how frustrating it can be. Although you might be tempted to take matters into your own hands, usually the best course of action is to do nothing. In other words, continue driving safely and if necessary, pull over to report the driver to the police. While witnessing a slow driver, an aggressive driver, or distracted drivers can be disappointing and even scary, at the end of the day, you can only control your own actions. Therefore, getting frustrated or angry at another driver for any prolonged period of time will only have a negative impact on you, not to mention lead to more dangerous driving. That is why it’s important to train yourself not to let the actions of other vehicles influence your mood.
We all hate being stuck in traffic. There is nothing worse than hitting the road, only to realize that the traffic is bumper-to-bumper and it will take you twice as long to get where you need to go. While this situation is likely to make anyone a little bit stressed, not letting it get the best of you is key. The better you are at controlling your anger, the safer you and other drivers will be. If you know that you will be travelling during peak traffic times, make it a point to leave earlier so that you don’t end up late, this way you are likely to be less stressed during your commute.
Issues in one’s personal life
There are countless issues in one’s personal life that can impact their overall mood, which can lead to increased frustration when doing any basic task, including driving. The personal issue could be anything from losing your job to going through a breakup. Getting into an argument with a friend or partner before getting behind the wheel can also lead to heightened emotions. Ultimately, it is completely normal to feel frustrated when experiencing trouble in your personal life. However, it is up to you to control your emotions and take care of your mental health so that any issues in your personal life do not come out as road rage. If you know that you are not in the headspace to drive safely and responsibly, it is best to temporarily refrain from driving. Walk, cycle, ask a friend to drive you, or take public transit for the day.
Impatience is one final reason that Canadian drivers get frustrated on the road. Some people lack patience, believing that their needs are greater than everyone else’s. In turn, they believe that they deserve to get where they need to go more than anyone else on the road. This viewpoint can be dangerous and is one that may lead to reckless or erratic driving. Thankfully, impatience is something that can be worked on and improved. If you notice that you are far less patient than those around you, whether it’s when you’re driving or standing in line at the grocery store, consider reaching out to an anger or mental health professional for help.
Expert tips to handle frustration when driving
There are many valid reasons for someone to be frustrated, but that is never an excuse to endanger yourself and your fellow drivers by driving erratically. To ensure you help you keep your road rage in check, we have put together the following list of expert tips for handling frustration when driving:
1. Recognize what is and is not within your control
It can be extremely empowering in moments of frustration to recognize what is and is not within your control. For example, if you become frustrated while driving, remember that what is in your control is yourself and your vehicle. In other words, you have complete control over how you react to another driver and how you choose to drive your car. Making the conscious decision to not let another driver’s actions get the better of you and to continue driving safely and responsibly is the best way to respond to any bubbling anger or frustration inside of you. In addition to recognizing that there is nothing you can do about the way another driver chooses to drive, you can also recognize that it is not your job to manage the behaviour of other drivers. You are responsible for your own driving habits and your own driving habits alone.
2. Drive defensively
Our second tip for handling frustration when driving is to drive defensively at all times. Defensive driving is important at all times, but especially in situations where you witness someone else driving recklessly. Signs of reckless driving include driving over the speed limit, travelling too close to another vehicle, or driving erratically. If you notice any of these behaviours, remain calm and set an example by driving in a way that keeps yourself and others safe. Some of the most popular defensive driving tactics you can employ include driving within the speed limit at all times, using your signal, keeping a safe distance between yourself and the driver in front of you, especially if they have proven themselves to be an aggressive driver, and avoiding taking risks, like rushing through a yellow light or merging at the last minute. For more defensive driving tips, consider enrolling in an approved defensive driving course in your province. Doing so might even make you eligible for a car insurance discount.
3. Take steps to make your driving experience more enjoyable
Another tip to handle or avoid frustration on the road is to make your driving experience as enjoyable as possible. To do this, think about the things that make you happy. For example, is there a certain podcast or type of music you love? Press play before you pull out of the driveway. Alternatively, is there a specific beverage you like sipping on during your morning or evening commute, take the time to make one for yourself or pick it up from a coffee shop on the way. Whatever you can do to make driving more relaxing and enjoyable for yourself, do it.
4. Keep your distance
Maintaining a safe distance from other drivers is a vital defensive driving tactic. However, the defensive driving tactic refers to physical distance. While important, another way to handle your frustration when driving is to maintain an emotional distance from other drivers as well. This means staying calm on the inside and slowing down to put multiple car lengths’ worth of distance between yourself and the other driver.
5. Practice breathing techniques
If you have trouble remaining calm in stressful situations, consider employing a breathing technique. There are tons of different breathing techniques out there, but no matter which you choose, they can calm your nervous system and instantly help you feel more relaxed. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road while practicing them. A basic breathing technique you may wish to practice is as follows: Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold your breath and count to seven, breathe out through your mouth and count to eight. Repeat several times until you feel more relaxed.
6. Don't take other drivers’ actions personally
Another way that you can keep your anger in check when driving is to avoid taking other drivers’ actions personally. It can be easy to assume that everyone is out to get you, but thinking this way will only make you angrier and more frustrated. If you witness or are the victim of poor driving behaviour, remind yourself that their actions have nothing to do with you. You might even attempt to practice compassion, considering the fact that perhaps the other driver is going through a rough time or has had a bad day. You never know - the other driver could also be new to driving and is feeling nervous behind the wheel. Reminding yourself not to take it personally can help an angry driver stay calm on the road.
7. Turn on some relaxing music
Last but not least, if you find yourself growing frustrated while driving, utilize one of the best tools at your disposal: music! Music has the power to turn someone’s whole mood around. It can also have a calming effect. For instance, studies have shown that playing relaxing music can alleviate anxiety. If there is a particular song, artist, or album you like, keep it on hand for moments when you’re feeling stressed. Alternatively, consider listening to reggae, jazz, or classical music, which are genres known for their soothing qualities.
What to do if you are the victim of a road rage incident
While this article is primarily focused on frustrated drivers, it can be even more difficult to be the victim of a frustrated driving incident. If you recently experience road rage from another driver, this is what we recommend you do: First, remain calm. It can be hard to reason with a driver whose emotions are heightened, so do not confront them or provoke them further by blocking them or making a rude gesture. Next, we recommend keeping a safe distance. Remain in your vehicle at all times, let the frustrated driver pass you, and continue driving safely. Do not speed to catch up to the driver, follow them, or weave in and out of traffic to get away from them. If things have escalated to the point that you feel unsafe or that the situation has become dangerous, drive to the nearest police station. For instance, if the other driver is harassing you by driving on your tail or following you, pulling into a police station, or simply pulling over and letting them go around you, is a likely way to get them to stop.
General tips to improve your driving
Above, we laid out some tips on how you can handle your frustration when driving. However, beyond simply keeping your anger in check, it’s also important to hone your driving skills. Below, we have put together a list of some general tips to improve your driving, many of which are defensive driving tactics that, if followed, can help you avoid trouble on the road:
Obey the speed limit
Obeying the speed limit is imperative, no matter your age or level of driving experience. Not only is driving over the speed limit illegal but it can be dangerous. This is why it’s important to always take note of speed limit signs and make sure you obey them. If you are a new driver or are driving in inclement weather, we even recommend you drive just below the speed limit if you're nervous. If you have a heavy foot, utilize cruise control when you are able to help you maintain the speed limit.
Leave plenty of room
Giving yourself plenty of room is essential on the road. Though it might seem harmless to stop right behind someone’s bumper at an intersection, doing so can have a negative outcome. For instance, if you were only a few feet from the car in front of you, and the car behind you accidentally crashed into your bumper, your car might move forward and rear end the vehicle in front. This makes the situation far worse than it otherwise would have been. But if you leave extra room between yourself and the vehicles around you, it gives you more time to react and prevent an accident.
Minimize distractions on the road
Distracted driving is a major issue on the road, especially with the popularization of cell phones. Driving while distracted is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the country. Don’t fall into the trap of distracted driving. Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on the road throughout your journey. To do this, turn the radio station to your preferred station, finish eating or drinking, and put your cell phone somewhere that it isn’t visible before taking the car out of park.
Never get behind the wheel while impaired
Impairing driving is when a person drives while under the influence. This could be under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, narcotics, etc. Driving while impaired is extremely dangerous and illegal. If you are caught driving under the influence, you could face the following penalties:
- The suspension of your driver’s licence
- A hefty fine plus a reinstatement fee
- Mandatory enrollment in an education or treatment program
- Your car being impounded
- Higher insurance rates
- Potentially harsher penalties if you are convicted of impaired driving
Please note that your age, the class of your driver’s licence, your blood alcohol level, and whether you have any prior impaired driving convictions can all play a role in the penalty that you incur. Given the serious consequences of driving while impaired, it is vital that you plan a safe way home if you are intoxicated in any way. Your options may include calling a taxi, taking public transit, walking, or asking a friend or family member for a ride.
Car insurance coverage for all types of drivers
Should you let your frustrations get the best of you, and doing so results in an accident, having the right car insurance coverage is important. The following is a list of coverage that is important for all drivers to have:
Third party liability coverage
Third party liability coverage is a mandatory component of Canadian car insurance. This coverage can protect you if you are found to be liable for a car accident. With this coverage, you can receive compensation for medical bills, vehicle repair bills, and legal fees that arise from the collision.
Accident benefits coverage
Accident benefits coverage is designed to cover the cost of medical care if someone involved in a collision needs medical attention. Accident benefits cover medical care for more than just the policyholder, it can also cover expenses incurred by a passenger, pedestrian, or another driver involved in the accident.
Direct compensation - property damage coverage
Direct compensation - property damage coverage is mandatory in many Canadian provinces and it can be claimed if your vehicle is damaged in an accident that was not your fault. When you receive compensation for the cost of repairs, it comes directly from your insurance company.
Uninsured automobile coverage
Uninsured automobile coverage is the last compulsory coverage type in Canada, and it is an important one. It is designed to protect drivers who find themselves involved in a collision with a driver who is uninsured or underinsured. If this happens to you, or you are the victim of a hit and run, you can receive compensation from your insurer under the uninsured automobile portion of your policy.
Collision coverage is optional but worthwhile for many drivers. It covers the cost of damage if you are involved in a collision and your vehicle needs to be repaired. This coverage type can be claimed whether you are liable for the accident or not.
Comprehensive car coverage is another insurance coverage option for drivers. It protects parked cars from a wide range of risk scenarios. For instance, if your car was parked in your driveway and a tree branch fell on it, cracking the front windshield, you might be able to receive compensation from your insurer under the comprehensive coverage portion of your policy. In general, when you add this coverage to your auto insurance plan, you can be reimbursed for damage to your car that is caused by any named perils in your policy, such as theft, vandalism, water damage, fire, wind, falling objects, and more.
Accident forgiveness coverage
One final type of optional car insurance coverage popular among drivers is accident forgiveness. Accident forgiveness is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement, to protect your driving record and to help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim. Note: coverage varies by province.
Contact BrokerLink for more tips on handling frustration when driving
Want to learn more about road rage, the risks of driving while angry, or more ways to handle frustration on the road? Get in touch with BrokerLink. We are one of the premier insurance brokerages in Canada, and we can help you wide a wide array of driving and car-related queries. We can also help you find a great auto insurance policy at a low price. This way, you will be protected, even in the event that your anger gets the best of you and results in an accident. Other services we provide include helping our customers with renewing car insurance. The BrokerLink team is also happy to offer tips on ways to save money on car insurance, including the advantages of using a dash cam for insurance. Contact BrokerLink by phone, email, or in-person to get started!
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Car insurance FAQs
If I install winter tires on my car, will I receive a car insurance discount?
Depending on where you live in Canada, outfitting your car with winter tires could result in a car insurance discount of anywhere from 5% to 10%. Just make sure that your tires and the dates you have them installed and removed meet the conditions stipulated by your insurance company.
What is a high-risk driver?
A high-risk driver is an auto insurance policyholder guilty of the following: They have made too many insurance claims, they have had their policy cancelled due to non-payment, or they are at higher risk of a collision due to their driving records. Not all insurance companies offer policies for high-risk drivers, but an insurance broker can help you find an insurer that does.
How do I receive a multiple-vehicle car insurance discount?
The way to receive this type of car insurance discount is by purchasing car insurance for more than one vehicle at a time. This discount is ideal for households with two or more vehicles. If you bundle multiple insurance products together, you can save anywhere from 15% to 20% per policy. Plus, you will only have one renewal date to remember, which makes it more convenient for everyone involved.
What is all perils insurance?
All perils insurance is an option you will have, whether you are purchasing an auto, home, or commercial insurance policy. In the context of auto insurance, all perils coverage is available as part of the comprehensive coverage portion of your policy. When you select all perils coverage, you and your car will be protected against the widest possible list of risks. The exact perils covered by all perils insurance vary from policyholder to policyholder and even between insurance companies, but typically the following are included:
- Vandalism / mischief
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, sleet
- Damage from electrical current
How can I get cheap car insurance?
Finding cheap car insurance might seem impossible, but it’s far from it when you work with an insurance broker. An insurance broker can let you in on some of the best-kept secrets in the industry for saving money on car insurance. For example, they can inform you about bundling, winter tire discounts, anti-theft device discounts, safe driver discounts, telematics discounts, and more. A broker can also provide you with a free auto insurance quote.
Why is third party liability coverage so important?
Third party liability coverage is vital for all drivers in Canada. In fact, it’s important for almost any kind of insurance policy in Canada. Why does it matter for drivers? It comes down to the fact that this is the main type of coverage that can protect you if you get into an at-fault accident. An at-fault accident is one that you are liable for, or at least found to be more liable than the other person involved. Car accidents are costly and will be even more so without liability insurance. That is why this type of coverage is a requirement for all drivers, no matter where they live in Canada. This kind of coverage can protect you from third party lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, and can help pay for medical fees, vehicle repair costs, and settlement and defence fees.
For related articles, check out our tips for winter car maintenance and safe long distance drive.