Drive Like You Know Each Other
Earlier this afternoon, I was driving in to the station. I was on a relatively calm, country road--you know, the kind where you don't mind driving the speed limit because the scenery is lovely and you can just turn up your music and zen out.
I'm driving along, engaging in a bit of carpool karaoke, when I glance in my rear-view mirror and notice the "over exuberant," clearly distressed driver trailing dangerously close behind me. The speed limit was 40 mph on this particular stretch of road, and if I'd been able to magically cause my vehicle to sprout wings and fly, he would most likely have accelerated to at least 70 mph in about 2.2 seconds.
My zen-like calm turned into basic, heart-thumping panic, particularly when I saw him mouthing what can only have been something less-than-friendly, when I started looking for a place to pull over long enough to let him pass. There was none. Meanwhile, he's trying to move around me while oncoming cars in the opposite lane were heading our way. Eventually, I was able to pull on to a shoulder, and as he passed he made eye contact and more angry gestures were directed my way. That was a pleasant encounter.
Needless to say, everything turned out okay. I'm a pretty laid-back person, generally. But, what if I hadn't been? Or what if I had panicked and swerved into oncoming traffic? What if I'd slammed on my brakes, or accelerated maniacally to create some distance, and someone was seriously hurt? That would've definitely changed the tone of the holiday season for some unlucky family.
This is not coming from a place of judgement. I, too, have been the driver running late to a meeting. We have all had times when we were emotionally upset by something else going on in our lives to the point where we drive in an unsafe manner. Plus, this time of year, the traffic here can rival bigger cities, and that's not something we're happy about in East Texas.The thing is, the road rage? It's just not worth it.
On a practical level, most of the time when we are trying to speed our way to work or "make the light" before it turns red, it rarely if ever makes a difference. Furthermore, that doesn't account for the times when we are angry and make abrupt movements that could potentially cause a wreck and possibly get someone killed.
If you find yourself heating up when you're behind the wheel, as simple as it sounds, just pulling over and taking a few deep breaths can help. I also recommend thinking about your own loved ones, and how you want others to drive around them. Imagine that you are driving behind your own family members and friends.
If you find yourself nearby an erratic driver, safely try to move away from them as quickly as possible. Change your lane or pull into a parking lot. If you're not on a road where you can do this, try and stay as calm as possible. Take a deep breath, focus on the road, and avoid eye contact with them.
Let's drive like we know each other. We all want a holiday season that is merry and bright.
Want more tips on overcoming road rage-y tendencies? Psychology Today shares some helpful tips here.