Memorial Day will be here soon, along with summer tourists. Traffic on all our roads will increase.

For those of us who live here year-round, it can be a challenge to adjust for the extra traffic and summer road construction, too.

For strategies to cope with this challenge, I spoke with therapist Rachel Davis, LCSW, LADC.  Davis practices in Windham, and one of her specialties is anger management. I asked about ways to avoid getting road rage oneself, and how to react if another driver has it.

In general, Davis suggested, we can avoid frustration by taking responsibility for our own actions, being realistic about the increase in traffic, and planning more time to travel. We need to change our focus on getting there safely instead of getting there on our preferred off-season schedule.

Davis explained that she sees road rage as a control issue.  Drivers get angry because they want to control what other drivers are doing. She observed that we are an over-stressed population, trying to do too much, so if other people get in our way, we may get angry.

If poor planning prevents us from having one minute to be nice to another driver, that’s a sign that we need to slow down.

If we are living our everyday lives, trying to get to work and run errands, our timetable will clash with leisurely vacationers’.  We all know the scenario of getting stuck behind rubber-necking tourists who slowly creep along or lost out-of-towners who abruptly change course.

Davis pointed out we should remember how we’d like to be treated if we were lost in their hometown, and be thankful that they are here supporting our economy.

She suggested that the vacationing tourists can be good role models for us to slow our own pace and appreciate our beautiful landscape that we may take for granted.      

Another type of summer driver in Maine is the extremely aggressive “Massachusetts drivers” who pack road rage in their suitcases. These people tailgate, cut you off, and definitely don’t let you merge. They don’t seem to understand that they’re not driving in downtown Boston during rush hour.

Davis puts these aggressive drivers in perspective by pointing out that we don’t know what’s going on in other people’s lives.  If someone is being pushy, then they must be in more of a hurry and have something more important to do. They could be having a medical emergency and deserve our sympathy instead of anger.      

Sgt. Eric Nevins of the South Portland Police Department, warned  that a 4,000-pound vehicle is a deadly weapon. He observed that the laws of physics will trump any traffic laws.

If you encounter a driver exhibiting road rage, Nevins advised to back off, distance yourself from a potential accident, and call 911.      

From my perspective as a technician, I consider vehicles’ conditions as well as drivers’ mental states. The next time you’re tempted to tailgate someone, first think about the state of your brakes. And before you respond to another driver who’s directing rage at you, consider that you have no idea what his undercarriage looks like.

Ruth Morrison is an Automotive Technology Instructor and Department Chair at Southern Maine Community College. She holds certification as an ASE Master Technician and Advanced Level Specialist and was a former Ford Senior Master Technician.