If there's one thing we could all do as motorists, it's being a bit more patient behind the wheel. With the UK regularly topping the lists as the most road rage-prone country in the world, and more than half of Brits themselves being victims of driver aggression, a little less stress would be ideal right now.

Most of us will have seen red while driving, but letting stress overtake ourselves at the wheel can end up causing larger problems. From anxiety and anger issues to potentially hazardous driving, it's important to keep our emotions in check to stop things from getting out of control on the road.

But what is it about British roads that makes us lose our cool so often? And what can we do to combat driving stress? To help make your driving a calmer, safer experience, we'll take a look at some of the most common causes of stress, along with some top tips you can use to cope with the emotions they cause.

The most common causes of driving stress

Traffic and congestion

When you're stuck in heavy traffic and going nowhere fast, especially during commutes, it's easy to let stress levels rise.Text here ...

If you're going to be driving through congested areas, then be sure to give yourself enough time to reach your destination. Leave the house with plenty of time to spare, and try looking at alternative routes if you continue to encounter traffic.

And remember, if you do find yourself at a standstill, then try not to stress when it's out of your control.

Road awareness

Staying alert and aware on the road is a bit part of safe, stress-free driving. When we aren't paying attention, it leaves us prone to shocks and surprises, which can knock our calmness out of whack.

By observing and anticipating things on the road, we can drastically reduce our stress levels. Be sure to take your time and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front. By doing so, you'll have more time to react if something unexpected takes place.

Inconsiderate drivers

One of the bigger causes of driving stress - to most motorists, inconsiderate drivers are like a red rag to a bull, turning serene journeys into expletive-filled tests of patience.

As frustrating as things like sudden lane changes can be, try to remind yourself of who's behind the wheel of the other car. Everyone has different things going on in their lives, so it's important to be understanding when other people make mistakes. No one's perfect after all.

Likewise, if you're the one responsible for dropping a clanger and you're bearing the brunt of someone's anger, a simple apology tends to be enough, even when it might be tempting to respond in kind. 

Navigation issues

Sat nav is obviously one of modern motoring's greatest innovations. But make no mistake, its capacity to frustrate and annoy can certainly make even the most level-headed driver see the red mist.

Making a wrong turn is certainly a frustration. But knowing you've made a wrong turn and having to listen to a digitised voice continue to provide directions? That's bordering on demeaning.

If you are genuinely lost, however, then try not to let stress get the better of you. Whether it's because of confusing road markings or heavy traffic leaving you in a muddle, find a safe place to stop, take a breath, and assess where you are.

And remember, don't panic if you do end up going the wrong way. You'll soon be heading in the right direction.


Whatever your opinions of them are - reckless, unexpected behaviour from certain cyclists is a stressor for many motorists. Whether they're weaving through traffic or not signalling appropriately, they can end up causing a great deal of road rage for those on four wheels.

Luckily, we've come up with a range of top tips to help you deal with cyclists and other causes of driving stress below.

How to combat driving stress

Take some deep breaths

When stress gets to you while driving, try taking a few deep breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to be a powerful technique when it comes to calming the body and mind.

To try this form of motoring meditation yourself, take a deep breath in through the nose, filling the diaphragm with plenty of air and allow your lungs to expand, before breathing out through the mouth.

Perform this breathing technique five to 10 times in a row, and you should notice a calmness come over the body. It's a handy technique which you can do any time you feel stressed out. 

Adjust your position

If you've noticed yourself gripping the steering wheel, hunching over the wheel, and clenching your jaw, then these are all tell-tale signs that you're stressed when driving.

Even a few simple adjustments when driving can help keep your body loose and reduce stress. Try loosening your grip, leaning back, or adjusting the car seat to make yourself more comfortable and move your shoulders up and down. When you're more comfortable in the driving seat, you're less likely to lose your cool.

Listen to your favourite music

Even if you don't realise it, what you're listening to in the car can play a big part in your mood. Instead of stressing yourself out with endless news reports, crank up your favourite music instead. Listening to music you enjoy could help to lower your blood pressure and make your journeys a little more fun, too! 

Switch your phone off

With the penalty for being on your phone while driving now costing you six points and a £1,000 fine, you should be doing this anyway.

But even if you aren't using it, the sound of your phone vibrating away with every new message or phone call can be a huge distraction when you should be focusing on the road instead. Turn off your phone and deal with whatever's on the other end when you've reached your destination.

Fill up on fuel

Sitting in a traffic jam with the fuel light blinking away is never fun, and will surely wreak havoc on your nerves when there's the rest of the journey ahead.

Instead of having to frantically find a petrol station (something else that's just going to stress you out), be sure to top your car up beforehand. Likewise, keep your car in good condition too – near-empty fluid levels and a dirty windscreen will only end up giving you more things to stress over as you get from A to B.

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