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Helping yourself relax while driving

Helping Yourself Relax While Driving

If you have never had an episode or a brush with road rage, then consider yourself lucky. Most people get behind the wheel of their car, truck or SUV and almost immediately find something to become enraged about. For example, whenever I get in my car to go somewhere, whether it’s pulling out from my apartment complex or starting from a stopped position at light, it seems like there is always someone tailgating me and it drives me nuts if I don’t get a handle on it.

Everyone has pet peeves when it comes to driving, but sometimes these pet peeves can turn into road rage if you’re not careful. For example, the person who is driving the speed limit might make the person who is tailgating behind them upset that they aren’t going fast enough. As a result the upset driver might try to do some sort of evasive movement to a) get around the slow driver and b) prove a point to the driver that they are going too slow. However, this can be dangerous and more often than not will cause some sort of chain reaction that will lead to a traffic accident. For instance, just yesterday, the news channel reported that traffic was backed up for miles on a major highway due to an accident that took place in which two cars were tailgating each other. The one car had to break suddenly when a motorcyclist cut across the lane without signaling, and because the other driver was tailgating, he/she didn’t have enough of a response time to react, thereby crashing into the car in front of them. If that wasn’t bad enough, the reaction from the one car crashing into the other car, caused the car in front (which was stopped) to move forward, crashing into the motorcyclist, injuring the rider. And just to think, all of it could have been avoided if the one car hadn’t been tailgating the other!

People will tend to poo-poo the fact that they get angry while they drive or that they don’t exercise good judgment while they drive. However, the statistics don’t lie. While you shouldn’t be totally relaxed while driving, you should aim for being somewhat relaxed and alert. What do I mean by this? Be relaxed enough that you won’t become enraged by other people’s poor driving ability and/or decisions. Being angry won’t help you become a better driver. In fact, it will only promote the opposite- exacerbating an issue that is already problematic. If you feel yourself getting angry, try taking a few deep breaths. Put on some relaxing or classical music. Sing along to music; think happy thoughts. The most important thing is to focus on the roadway. You want to pay attention to how other people are driving, but you don’t want to focus alone on their bad driving habits or choices. Instead, you want to pay attention to what they are doing as well as what is going on around you, this way you are prepared to react should something go wrong. I remember taking driver’s education in high school and having the instructor tell us, “When you are driving, always be thinking about a possible escape route for your vehicle in case someone else around you is driving irresponsibly.” This means giving yourself and the car in front of you enough space in case you suddenly need to maneuver at the last minute due to the person behind you not being able to stop, etc.

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