Nothing can be more infuriating than being stuck behind a slow driver in the middle of the road–one who refuses to budge despite your incessant honking. Or is it worse when you have to hear the strident noise of a car horn from behind and you have absolutely nowhere to move?

Careless drivers, rash drivers, slow drivers, irresponsible drivers and self-righteous drivers–they are all around us. What do we do with them? Should we take them to one side and chastise them or hurl abuses as we speed past them? Or should we roll down our windows and gesture our disapproval? Maybe stepping on the accelerator and showing them who is the boss, would work.

For reasons often confounding, the road brings out the hulk in us. We are constantly angry with this cacophony perhaps because we are not well-versed with road etiquette. We stop at red lights not because we care about lives, but because we fear the penalty and, in the worst-case scenario, confiscation of the driving licence.

Traffic rules don’t teach emotional intelligence. To put it simply, we do not know how to behave on roads. We haven’t been able to accept that these careless, rash, slow, irresponsible and self-righteous drivers are, in fact, us.

Accidents on the road are inevitable but the familiar phenomenon of road rage can reduce if we understand and accept a few things about ourselves.

Through no fault of ours, we are often caught in unhelpful circumstances like heavy rains, seething heat, broken roads, or a huge truck parked on a narrow lane of a busy route. Such times can push even the best of drivers and riders to completely lose it. However, taking it out on fellow travellers is not going to help anyone. Instead, acknowledging that we cannot control every situation helps put a lid on the outburst.

Maybe, road rage is just stress in disguise. It is easier to unleash pent-up anger at strangers than anyone else. The pitchforks come out as soon as we feel cornered. There are other ways to deal with stress and the road is simply not the place to bring it out.

On the road, innate animal instinct takes over as we try to mark our territory. We react offensively when someone tries to cut lanes or overtake us. This dominating instinct spikes on the roads and manifests itself as aggressive, hostile behaviour. A way to rein it in is to accept that the road is common ground and belongs to all.

Many-a-time, we lose our temper when we come across someone driving aggressively or not paying enough attention. Who knows, they could be learning or perhaps going through a personal tragedy. Sometimes, if not always, all that’s needed to diffuse this tension on the road is to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

We crib the traffic is bad. What we conveniently forget is that we are traffic. We each are responsible for everything that conspires on the road. The decisions made en route are not without consequences. On the road, the right decision can mean the difference between life and death.

Mallika Singh
Written by Mallika Singh for Soulveda.
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