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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Celebrities /  Cool, Calm and Focused
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Monday, July 8,2019

Cool, Calm and Focused

Great Tips and Insights on Road Rage

By Liz Sterling  

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? When it comes to driving, my New York habits are begging to be tamed. I even wrote a blog about this very topic just a few weeks ago. You can check it out here: https://www.askliz.com/blog/carshame 

Here’s what happened. Last month, I had the pleasure of attending my nephew’s engagement party in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I went online to select a rental car and a hybrid option popped up, so I decided to give it a try. At home, I drive a very sporty, turbo-charged car. The hybrid was not nearly as peppy as I’m used to, and I quickly learned I’m an impatient driver.

 

On the first day, my sister pointed out that I stop in the crosswalk, not before it, and that I drive too fast. “Slow down, Elizabeth,” she said. “You need to be aware that there are a lot of children around here.”

The next day I was on a rural road behind eight cars and a very slow driver. My impatience had me veering right and left, looking to see what slowing us down. This activated the rental car to signal a warning chime and a picture of a steaming hot cup of coffee appeared, warning me to wake up!

I finally got the message when I was stopped by a highway patrol officer while heading to the airport. “You were driving aggressively, changing lanes, passing on the right and speeding. My job is to help you become aware of what you were doing.” Luckily, I got off with a warning! I certainly had a big dose of Car Shame and an opportunity to make some important changes. Road rage manifests in many different forms, and unfortunately, everyone pays a price.

I’m sure you’ve been on the road and felt someone whiz by so fast that you felt your own heart race. How about the driver in the left lane who is going below the speed limit, or the hot shot weaving in and out and passing on the right? They may be in their comfort zone, but everyone around them is steaming under the collar. And we’ve all experienced the impatient driver who honks and honks and honks. These disruptions to our nervous systems have a lasting effect. They can be off-putting for minutes to hours, so be aware and be conscious about making good choices while driving.

That’s good advice, but it may be easier said than done for those like me who have driven aggressively for so many years. Here’s what I learned from Aceable, a Driver’s Ed website. “According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of road rage is ‘angry and aggressive behavior by a driver who is upset by how another person is driving.’ According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the majority of aggressive drivers are ‘young, poorly educated men between 16 and 26.’ The AAA Foundation also notes that if these vehicle operators are suffering from Intermittent Explosive Disorder, then these aggressive drivers could be anyone, regardless of income or education. While ‘aggressive driving’ is just a traffic offense, ‘road rage’ is a driverblamed criminal offense. You don’t want to wind up doing serious jail time from vehicular homicide.”

Here are some tips Aceable offers for avoiding road rage:

• Most road racers are usually dealing with some sort of emotional crisis, so give yourself some time to defuse before getting behind the wheel.

• If it’s rush hour or you find yourself in a traffic jam due to an accident, listen to music and just come to terms with the fact that you´re going to run late. It´s okay.

Finally, here’s what the National Highway Transportation and Safety Agency says you can do if you find yourself a victim of a road rage incident:

• If an angry driver gives you the finger or makes another obscene gesture, be a grown up and ignore it.

• Honk that horn only if you really have to… like if a driver is merging into your lane and doesn´t appear to see you. Don´t use your horn if you´re simply annoyed because you´re sitting in traffic. Honking your horn is meant to be used to alert other drivers, not to scold them.

• If an aggressive driver starts following you, don´t go home. Call the police and drive to the nearest police station.

For more helpful info like the above, visit www.aceable.com.

As for whether aggressive driving saves you time or energy, Reader’s Digest travel adviser Marissa Laliberte explains, “One experiment found that a car that changed to a faster lane every chance possible was only 15 seconds ahead of a car that stayed in one lane after a 10-mile stretch in Los Angeles. Pick a lane and stay in it instead of scanning for a faster option. You’ll save yourself the stress of merging and likely won’t arrive at your destination much later.” Additionally, she informs us that, “Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. Of course you can’t zone out into a complete state of meditation when you’re behind the wheel, but you can still practice mindfulness techniques. Be aware of every breath you take, and pay (extra) attention to your surroundings. Whenever your mind starts to wander, refocus your thoughts back to the drive.”

Next time you see me on the road, I’ll be moving along, committed to being just a little more cool, calm and focused – just like that sweet young dog on the cover….

Drive safely, enjoy the dog days of summer and be blessed. Liz

 

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