By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that road rage “involves a criminal act of violence, whereas aggressive driving can range from tailgating to speeding to running red lights.”

“The real root of aggressive driving lies within each of us,” reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Drivers can cope by taking an honest look at their driving behavior and attempting to reduce their stress level behind the wheel. April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month!

Here are some things to consider:


Get your Z’s. We all know how cranky we get without enough sleep. It makes us prone to feelings of annoyance, resentment and even anger.

Plan ahead. Do you regularly whiz through your morning routine in a whirlwind of chaos, trying to make up time while on the road? Extra time equals calmer driving.

Many of us love and identify with our cars, but sometimes you can take the “car as extension of self” idea too seriously. You’re not as impressive as you think, so let it go… No matter how much power you’ve got under the hood, your vehicle is first and foremost a mode of transportation, not a weapon.

Listen to relaxing music. It will make you less pumped up for action. Breath deep.

I know this is going to be hard for you to accept but It’s not all about you… Perhaps another driver cut you off. Or the car in front of you is braking erratically. Before you assume the driver is getting off on your rising anger levels, realize that you, as an individual, are not the target. Don’t take things so personally.

Driving with anger ages you. It creates frown lines and people most prone to anger are almost three times more likely to have a heart attack than those with low anger. Other health risks seen in those who display hostility include obesity, depression and stroke. Not only will giving into anger not resolve an irritating situation, it can increase the risk of retaliation. Think to yourself, “Is making my point worth endangering my life?” Learn to “let it (and them) go.”

Driving a car makes people feel more isolated and protected, allowing them to act in ways they would normally find embarrassing. You look like an Ass when you drive like one!

Take the self-test. Do any of the following statements sound like you?

– I regularly exceed the speed limit in order to get to work on time.

– I tailgate other drivers, especially those who sit in the left lane.

– I flash my lights and honk my horn to let drivers know when they annoy me.

– I verbally abuse other drivers whether they can hear me or not.

– I frequently weave in and out of traffic to get ahead.

– I feel the need to set bad drivers straight.

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re driving may qualify as aggressive. Take the detailed Road Rageous Test that determines if you’re driving habits fall under the “aggressive zone,” “hostile zone” or – worse yet – “war zone.”

We’re all bound to lose our cool at some point, but by planning ahead and keeping things in perspective, we can prevent our emotions from getting the best of us. Putting aggressive driving in park will help to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of everyone around you.