The Secret to Happy Drivers

Road-RageI think we’ve all had a day where we’re ready to kill all the other drivers around us. Road rage is definitely real and even the nicest person can get stressed out. As I’m preparing to take my family on a road trip this week, I was thinking about all the idiot drivers that I’ll have to contend with on our nine hour drive. My big conclusion? The best way to fix the problem of jerk-driving is to try and be courteous and to communicate.

Courteous:

You’re probably thinking something like,¬†That’s one of the first things they teach you in drivers ed. That may be true, but I’ll bet it’s one of the first things most people forget.

I try to be a courteous driver with little things as well as big. If I’m driving down the road of a semi-busy street and notice a car trying to turn left onto that same road, I check the spacing of cars behind me. If it looks like there’s an opening for that car trying to turn, I’ll speed up so that they have a better window to turn left on that road.

And if I’m on the freeway, I pay attention to how fast those around me are going. (Especially if I’m in the left lane!) I generally drive at a decent speed, but if I’m going slower and some cars are lining up behind me, I’ll change lanes to get out of their way. If that’s not possible, I’ll even speed up a little until I can change lanes. Why do I do this? Because if I were to stay in the left lane going five MPH slower than the other cars in that lane, it can cause traffic congestion. It can also influence the impatient drivers to make some stupid risks to get around me and possibly cause a car accident.

You don’t believe me? The next time you’re on the freeway, pay attention. There’s plenty of times when this kind of situation happens. There’s a reason why there’s a fast lane, slow lane, and middle lane. They designed the freeway like this to accommodate the different kinds of drivers and vehicles to prevent accidents.

This applies to every place you drive, including parking lots and school pick-up. (Don’t get me started on the crazy drivers I’ve encountered while trying to pick up my son from school!)

So, bottom line? Don’t get self-righteous if you’re going the speed limit and the others behind you are stuck until traffic thins out. You’re actually making things worse.

Communicate:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a passenger and the driver gets frustrated when they’re trying to make a lane change, but can’t find any openings. I always suggest that they turn on their blinker to let the other cars know that they’re trying to get in. It doesn’t always mean that people will let them in front of them, but at least drivers are prepared if the person I’m with has to get aggressive and weasel their way into the other lane.

If we could use our turning signals, horns, and lights to communicate better instead of complain to the other driver that we don’t like the way they drive, it would be a lot easier to drive through heavy traffic.

Conclusion: be a courteous driver and do your best to communicate to the other cars around you! Let someone in front of you if they are trying to get in your lane instead of slamming on the gas so that you can stay in front. If we all tried to help each other out on the road more, it would make for less road rage and smoother traffic.

Well, off to my road trip now. Wish me luck as I try to be a good driver!