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Winter Driving and Road Rage

Winter Driving and Road Rage

October 30, 2020

With winter arriving in the form of darker hours and adverse conditions across British Columbia, it’s a good time to take a moment and remember that, despite the fact that as Canadians we should be used to harsh driving conditions, this is the time of year when more accidents happen. This is due in large part to a combination of wet or snowy conditions and driver error.

Police departments and insurance organizations such as ICBC are quick to remind drivers across BC that discourteous driving is leading to more and more cases of road rage, and at a time of year when accidents naturally spike due to driving conditions, and the ongoing stress related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it’s important to remind ourselves that getting angry on the road endangers both yourself and other drivers around you.

Feelings of frustration can lead to aggressive driving behaviours like speeding, tailgating, or cutting off other cars. At the extreme end of the spectrum, anger can escalate to road rage, with acts of violence in response to other people’s driving.

As we move into the season that has the worst driving conditions of the year, it is important to be a courteous driver yourself, and not to fly off the handle. Aggressive driving is a serious issue and much more common than you might think.

Repeated anger episodes can actually stress out your mind and body too. Getting mad triggers your brain to release adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones increase your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

Remember, everyone is human and makes mistakes, including yourself and the driver that’s been tailgating you. If you’re cut off by a car, maybe the driver is running late, has their mind on something else, or honestly just didn’t see you. It doesn’t make it right, but retaliating isn’t ok either. It’s not worth an accident!

When you do get stressed on the road, it may be a good idea to pull over, take a deep breath or two and pause for a moment to collect yourself.

During BC’s rainy and snowy season, drivers need to stay especially focused, leave enough space for your vehicle (recommended 3 seconds following distance or more) and be aware of your surroundings. Use your lights and turning signals correctly to make yourself as visible as possible. Please stay off your phone unless hands free. It’s the law!

Most of all, avoid aggressive drivers. If someone yells or gestures at you, ignore them. If there is an aggressive driving incident, stay a safe distance away and report the driver immediately to police.

With thousands of cars on the road and poor seasonal conditions, driving is sometimes going to be stressful; however, don’t let a stressful commute affect the health and safety of yourself or those around you. Together, we can help reduce accident statistics.

And as we’ve heard from our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Henry, let’s remember to be kind, be calm and be safe, even when it comes to our driving!

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca.


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