Changing Lanes: How to Go From Road Rage to Safer Driving in Sixty Seconds Flat
by Jennifer Jordan
Road rage has become a big part of our driving world. These days, it seems to be more common than a pine tree air freshener hanging from a rearview mirror. This is unfortunate as road rage just compounds danger: with the threat of accidents, driving is dangerous enough, but road rage takes it to a new level. Fortunately, road rage is preventable, keeping a level head may be the only thing that you need to do to keep road rage out of your life and out of your car.
You may think of yourself as a mellow driver. You let others cut in front of you during traffic hour, you follow several car lengths behind other cars, you even whistle along to Nora Jones as she sings on the radio. You may be calm, rational, and always in control, but, chances are, even you can be riled. All that might stand between your serene drive and you wanting to ring the neck of other drivers is being late for an important appointment.
Whenever you are running late, it always seems that people drive a little slower, they linger at stop signs a little longer, and they are a little more oblivious to the other cars surrounding them. This is what road rage feeds on. Lurking inside your glove box, it waits for the moment when you start to become tense, worried you are going to keep a client or a boss waiting. Then it leaps into the driver seat and takes control.
The way to beat this kind of road rage is simple: plan ahead. Plan ahead for traffic, plan ahead for slow drivers, and plan ahead for poor weather. If you plan ahead, and give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go, road rage won’t have a chance of taking over the wheel.
Don’t Take it Personally
Some people just aren’t very good drivers. They put their makeup on while driving 70 miles per hour, they constantly check their cell phone for missed calls instead of checking their blind spots, and they believe the speed limit is simply a suggestion. Some people are such poor drivers that they are oblivious to everything but themselves or the cell phone attached to their ear.
Due to their oblivion, these people might be completely unaware that they’ve just cut you off, or totally ignorant to the fact that they’ve been sitting at a green light for well over thirty seconds. When these kind of things happen, don’t take it personally. These people are oblivious, not malicious. They aren’t purposely causing you to slam on your breaks or swerve your car. They aren’t purposely trying to make you late for work. They are simply in their own little world, and no amount of road rage is going to bring them down to Earth.
Don’t Take Other Worries on the Road
Stress is something we all have. From your kids screaming because they don’t want to go to school to that big presentation you’re not sure you’re ready for, stress runs rampant in all of our lives. On the road, however, is the last place that stress should rule.
When your driving is dictated by stress, everything that other drivers do is going to make you mad and give road rage a chance to ferment. Whether that driver is going five miles under the speed limit, or even going just the speed limit, you may find your blood starting to get hot: the more stress the faster your blood will boil.
For this reason, it’s important to remove the other stresses and worries from your life the instant you get behind the wheel. This may seem impossible, as you can’t very well just turn off your mind, but at least being aware of your stress – and making a valiant effort to remove your stress from your driving – is a starting point. After all, the stresses in your life are not the fault of the person driving slowly in front of you.
Take Public Transportation
Ah, public transportation: a bus, the subway, a cab, a limo. It may seem a bit inconvenient, as public transportation prevents you from just getting into your car on your schedule and going to your destination, but public transportation also prevents you from getting road rage, or at least being able to act on it. For some, the perks of public transportation outweigh the negatives.
When taking public transportation, you may still have to wait in traffic, but you probably won’t mind as much; this mode of moving allows you to do other things: you can read a book, get some work done, or even take a nap. And, if you take public transportation regularly, you can use your travel time to count all of the money you’re saving on gas.
Pulling over on the side of the road may seem futile; sitting on the shoulder of the highway isn’t going to help you get where you need to be. But, when worse comes to worst and road rage is about to commandeer your entire vehicle, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry and it’s better to be off the road than on it.
All you may need is a minute or two to calm down, collect your thoughts and realize that traffic, even when it comes in the form of pileups and road blocks, is not the end of the world.