According to a AAA survey, drivers in the Northeast are much more likely to confront each other when angry then drivers in other states. This isn't shocking, although we haven’t heard a lot about road rage lately New Jersey (and it’s my contention that that’s because it has been replaced by Trump rage).

Unfortunately, you still have isolated incidents of driver conflict on our highways and byways. Let’s face it: the Garden State is so densely populated, our roadways such a nightmare and our citizens so "spirited" that it’s almost a given that a certain amount of road rage is bound to occur. AAA offers the following tips to help prevent road rage:

  • Don’t offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. For example, don’t pump your brakes to make another driver slam on theirs.
  • Be tolerant and forgiving: If another driver cuts you off, it truly can be a mistake. Assume that it’s not personal.
  • Do not respond: Take yourself out of a potentially dangerous situation. Avoid eye contact with, and making gestures to drivers who may be exhibiting aggressive behavior toward you.

While the above tips are certainly helpful, they seem a little too obvious, and I want to share the one thing that you need to do that people rarely realize. The most important thing you can do to avoid road rage is this:

Look straight ahead.

No one ever mentions the thing that turns a merely aggravated driver into a monster-someone who is willing to beat the crap out of you. And that thing is? Being looked at. That final gesture, that final insult, that “WTF!” look that makes everything worse.

For example, If you do something stupid to someone on the road they may decide to take a deep breath and give you the benefit of the doubt. But the minute you look into their car and they look back at you, the daggers come out, the gloves come off and it’s on!!

And you know what I’m talking about, because if you ever cut someone off accidentally, you feel apologetic until the minute you catch the persons eye and he looks at you angrily or gestures rudely and then all of a sudden you go from taking a deep breath to wanting to spit in his face. But hold on, son! YOU were the one who was wrong! Somehow that “look” changes all the facts, clouds your brain and stirs up the rage.

On the other hand, if YOU’RE the one who was wronged, it’s much easier to give somebody the benefit of the doubt if you don’t lock eyes. Even if the person makes the “I’m sorry, this is my fault” gesture, somehow, just seeing them look stupid and sheepish can bug you even more!

So the next time you drift into somebody’s lane while you’re changing the radio station or get cut you off on the highway, keep your eyes on the road and not on the driver whom you offended or who offended you. Carry on with your day. Move on. It’ll help the anger to dissipate and prevent a fist fight (or worse) on the side of the road.

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Dennis & Judi are on the air weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tweet them @DennisandJudi or @NJ1015.

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