Leon James, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii and creator of antiaggression driving workshops, teaches the most notorious tailgaters and bird-flippers—often mild-mannered citizens in other situations—how to curb their road rage. Replacing negative thoughts about other drivers is a good place to start, he says. "When someone else leaves their blinker on, instead of thinking, 'Look at that idiot,' train yourself to say, 'Oh, I do that sometimes myself.'" (For a wake-up call, James has his students drive with a tape recorder—and then listen to their surprisingly hostile responses.) Another important shift of gear: Learn to view driving not as a competitive, me-first game but as a team sport. Relaxation techniques are also helpful, James says.
Such lessons could be lifesaving. Lab simulations run at Colorado State University show that in slow, frustrating conditions hostile drivers crash twice as often as calm ones do.