Want to enjoy driving more and reduce your stress level? Start by improving how you drive!
I try hard not to get up on a soapbox and lecture the population with my blog, but I'm afraid some of what follows is very necessary, so please read and do your best going forward while behind the wheel.
Before I dive in: Please don't sit there and act like everyone else is guilty of the transgressions I'm about to offer advice on - we all do most, if not all, of these. We can, and should, act much better on the roads, people - myself included.
Today's gadget-overloaded world absolutely dictates that I start here. Folks... for the love of all that you care about in your world... put the phone down. I don't care how important the call is - or text, or email, or Facebook post, or whatever - it can and will wait. If you absolutely must take it, pull off the road and stop.
Is your life - and the lives of others - less important than your phone? Because that's exactly what you're saying when you're driving while on the phone. Here is a very sobering fact: one in four drivers are on the phone before a crash. That's significantly greater than driving while intoxicated. Would you drive drunk? The answer to that better be a resounding "No!" and you should think exactly the same way about driving while glued to your phone.
And it doesn't end with putting your phone down. Turn the stereo down. Put that cheeseburger down. Put your makeup away. Leave the nail polish at home. (Yes, seriously - I've seen people painting their nails while driving. How is that even possible?) Every small distraction adds to the others and makes it much, much harder for you to be a safe and courteous driver. Are you trying to be a jerk? Of course not... so stop acting like one while you're driving...
Slow down and calm down
Here's a cold, hard fact for the speed demons among you: During your daily drive, you'll save - at most - mere seconds by exceeding the speed limit and changing lanes often in a vain attempt to get ahead of other drivers.
Oh, sure - it definitely feels like you're making good time when you're speeding and ducking in and out of traffic like you're in the Indy 500... but I assure you, my friend... you aren't.
Perhaps more importantly than the fact that you won't save a significant amount of time... your chances of causing an accident increase exponentially as you increase your speed. Is getting there a fraction of a minute sooner worth wrecking your car and your life? I can hear you already, "But, I might lose my job if I'm late!" That is true, but you know what? You hold within your power the ability to prevent this problem entirely...
Leave earlier, have patience and be considerate
It really is just that simple. Leave earlier. Most of the time, a mere 5-10 minutes is more than sufficient. Set your wake-up alarm just a tad earlier and drive to work at ease and with a contented smile on your face. Marvel with great amusement at the other impatient knuckleheads who haven't learned this invaluable life lesson as you cruise peacefully down the road. This technique works any time, day or night, too... if you have a smartphone, you have a built-in app that you can easily setup to provide you with "time to leave!" alerts, and you can even automate them so they happen on certain days of the week. I have nearly a dozen alerts setup in my phone, and guess what? I'm never late to work, and I'm never stressed getting there.
Along with leaving earlier... please drive with patience. Don't run red lights, don't skip ahead of others at stop signs, and for heaven's sake, don't blow your horn at people who take longer than a nanosecond to start moving when a light turns green. Just chill - you'll get there in very close to the same time whether veins are popping out of your forehead in rage or you've got the sunroof open and you're enjoying the day.
Likewise, don't let your desire for haste cause bad driving behavior. Your vehicle has turn signals for a reason. Use them at every turn and lane change. I know some of you don't use them because you think that impatient-looking dude in the next lane will try and cut you off... but you know what? He's probably trying to keep you from cutting him off, because you haven't left enough room for the maneuver. Also, please put your signal on before you brake. The idea is to let people know you're about to slow down or stop before you do it.
One final thought that really ought to convince you to do what I'm suggesting on a regular basis: You are much more likely to avoid an accident caused by someone else being a self-centered jerk, or any other accident really, because you'll be in full control of your vehicle and you'll be fully aware of your surroundings! The opposite is also very true - if you're busy doing the above nonsense, you probably won't see a collision coming until it's too late to avoid.
Long story short - drive positively and stay safe, or drive negatively and cause everyone problems, including yourself. It really isn't a difficult choice. Do the right thing.
As always, I welcome your positive feedback, thoughts, and suggestions for future articles - feel free to contact me any time!
Be safe and friendly out there,
Feel free to speak your mind via the commenting system - all I ask is that you do your best to keep your comments on the positive and constructive side, and that you respect the views of others. Have fun!
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