The holidays will soon be here, and with it, the horrors of mall shopping for gifts and the traffic that comes with it… in the time of COVID-19, too. Traffic is going to get hot soon, and it’s important that you keep your cool on the road, whether alone or with your family.
Have you ever noticed that the better behaved you are in traffic, the more likely it is that someone will absolutely take advantage of your good nature?
You’re following the speed limit, over to the right to let fast traffic through, letting in anyone who signals. You’re obeying all the rules, and giving adequate braking distance between you and the car ahead of you, when some %#$&# (let’s call this driver So-and-So from now on, even fake cursing is a bad habit) decides to put on their blinker and swerve right in front of you in the very same motion. Then the car ahead of them brakes... and the So-and-So has to hit their own brakes, forcing you to suddenly brake, too, sending anything on the passenger seat that isn’t belted in forward onto the floor.
This is not the beginning of an Italian Opera. This is the anatomy of nearly every traffic jam, and a good number of the accidents that occur in traffic, too. Selfish drivers aren’t choosing you by accident. They are putting the strain where they see it’s safest to do so. And if we’ve never heard this before, we almost certainly know it as much as we know our own name. So why does it burn so bad when traffic gets hot?
No one likes being taken advantage of. There are legal rules in traffic, and courtesies we are supposed to show one another as part of the social contract we have together. We can’t see the pressure someone is under in their life, and rightly, we don’t care. We follow the rules, and so should they. It’s an indignity and it burns.
It’s okay to feel burned by someone cutting you off, but it’s also important to let it go and not to become the element we dislike. If you begin following too closely to prevent others from following the first So-and-So and rolling right over youm, you are actively being just as unsafe… plus, aggressive.
Here are some tips for calming down the bloodlust you feel:
- Take a deep breath. The purpose of being in traffic isn’t to arrive early, or arrive first, or intimidate other drivers. It’s to Arrive Alive. That is your job and your duty. If you have avoided an accident, then that’s a gasping sigh of relief moment, not the discovery of a mortal enemy. Celebrate it!
- Forgive it. Because the So-and-So doesn’t care a bit about you and probably doesn’t even register that what they did to you is wrong. The only way you can really express your anger is to curse, or honk (which is unsafe and illegal) or position your car aggressively (which is also unsafe and illegal). Release that breath and be glad you are not that So-and-So, who sooner or later is going to miscalculate and rear-end someone to a very large bill. Here’s a good tip: if you need an apology on some childish level (this is not a judgment, this is just being honest), imagine Elmo from Sesame Street shouting out of their window “Elmo is sorry, Elmo is a vewwy bad driver!” and laugh it off. Believe me, you will feel so much better.
- Forget about it. If you curse, shout, make gestures, or beat your car’s interior, you let off a little rage, frustration and disappointment, but you know what else you’re doing? Disappointing yourself. Disappointing your family. Your family will be much prouder of you that you can put their safety first and gracefully move on.
One good tip is to put an object or symbol you find calming on the dash... someone, something to remind yourself of your passengers or yourself, your own ideas and values. Your car should be a sacred place and not a place that brings you anger and a feeling that you are being punished for doing the right thing.
Let it remind you to let go of stress and wish bad drivers safe rides home. There’s room for everybody on the road and it’s important to just face longer drive times and parking jams with respect for others and dignity within ourselves.
If you haven’t had an inspection recently on your car, and especially your brakes, now is a very good time to do that. Just click this embedded link to schedule an appointment today. Or give us a call at 858-221-4742. We’re located at 7171 Ronson Rd Ste B, San Diego, CA 92111 and we’re open Mondays through Fridays, from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.