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What I Learned About Being a Calmer Driver and the Change It Brought in My Life

I was reading an editorial column in a different publication the other day, and the author commented on his commute, as well as mentioning that he got angry. Well, on that topic, I realized something today. Months ago, I decided to become calmer behind the wheel.
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It worked flawlessly (not since day one, but you get the picture), and I keep enjoying the benefits of a simple shift in mindset every time I go for a drive. This is what I learned, and I hope it helps you too.

Before that moment, I was doing my best to keep calm, but eventually, I would be annoyed by the actions of other drivers. In some cases, I got angry. The consequences of that would vary from one situation to another, but I found that getting upset on my way to work, or on my way home, would make me insufferable to be around for an undetermined period.

If the paragraph above is relatable, you should know that the worst part is that your family, friends, or coworkers have no blame for the fact that someone angered you while driving to your destination. Moreover, the other driver who upset you moved on with their day and had no idea of your misery, while you got stuck on something that was not worth all this trouble.

You see, being mad while you are young might not be that big of a deal, but as time goes by and your life gets more sources of stress, things like this begin to take a toll on your health.

I had previously noticed that I experienced discomfort or even pain when I got angry, and this usually resulted in at least a headache. And I can tell you that it is not worth having your head hurt because someone else made you upset while you were driving, but without crashing.

Now, I do not even get upset if I see someone tailgating me on the highway or repeatedly switching lanes in a desperate attempt to get ahead in traffic. I do leave earlier than the time Google Maps estimated I need to go, so I am not in a rush whenever I leave for my destination.

And if I do find myself in a hurry, I take a deep breath, exhale, and move on with my trip. In most situations, even when you are running a bit late, things will work out anyway. The risk of an accident is not worth getting mad and driving as if the world would end if you did not arrive on time.

Guess what! If you crash, you will discover that the seconds or minutes you might have “saved” with the risky maneuver that led to that crash are nothing in comparison to the time you have to spend to sort through the mess. Bonus points: the crash will make you late for your destination.

But what about other drivers being inconsiderate, reckless, or annoying in any other way? Well, if I do witness reckless driving, I just leave more space between my vehicle and the one that attracts my attention.

This way, if they do something wrong on the road, like brake check somebody, I will have a “buffer” of space and time to stay clear of the whole thing.

While it may seem odd to just let others drive without obeying the rules, remember that it is not your job to give them a ticket or correct their behavior.

Suppose you feel the need to get involved. In that case, the best thing you could do is to call the police (while using an appropriate hands-free device as you are driving). Let them know if someone is driving erratically on a public road. The example above works if you suspect somebody of a DUI and think that it is an accident waiting to happen. If you just do not like someone else on the road or their vehicle, that is not a matter for law enforcement.

Your other option is to just film the whole thing with your dashcam and publish the footage on YouTube. If they do something crazy, it will become viral, and the police might step in and try to find the driver of that vehicle for a one-to-one discussion. Other than that, your job while driving is to avoid getting into an accident and reach your destination.

Just remember that you like driving (we prefer to think you like it if you are on autoevolution), and something you like should not upset you. If things do get tense on the road, instead of yelling at the other driver, be respectful and calm. They will eventually calm down if you are calm, and if that does not work, you still have calm on your side.

It is that simple. The goal is to get to your destination safely, with your vehicle intact and with your driver's license in your wallet. Suppose you manage to remain calm despite whatever you encounter on the road. In that case, you will take the best possible decision in the heat of the moment because you kept your cool. At the end of the day, staying calm is free, and it brings benefits in the long run.

I got the chance to see the video below once again a few days ago, and it led to this article. I hope it helps you find your inner calm on and off the road.



Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery features images from an Audi commercial depicting traffic.

 
 
 
 
 

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