Car Culture: Give Dumb Drivers a Pass

One of summer’s great­est joys is the reduced vol­ume of free­way traf­fic dur­ing morn­ing and evening rush hours.

With Labor Day loom­ing, the con­ges­tion will amp up and for at least some of us, so will tem­pers. From exas­per­a­tion to frus­tra­tion to full-blown road rage, emo­tions run high behind the wheel.

We’re ter­ri­to­r­i­al, we’re stressed out and we’re in no mood for dither­ing and delays.

Accord­ing to the 2014 Auto­Van­tage “In the Driver’s Seat Road Rage Sur­vey,” dri­vers actu­al­ly report expe­ri­enc­ing few­er unsafe motor­ing maneu­vers com­pared to the respons­es in the road­side assis­tance firm’s 2009 sur­vey on the same top­ic.

Sur­vey results show that horn honk­ing, curs­ing and fist-wav­ing all are up over 2009. Seems like we’re all still pret­ty angry behind the wheel.

Nation­wide, respon­dents (reg­u­lar com­muters over age 21) said they’re see­ing 6 per­cent less tail­gat­ing, 5 per­cent few­er red-light run­ners and 6 per­cent few­er rude lane chang­ers than five years ago.

Detroit, in fact, improved nine spots on the cour­tesy rank­ing, mov­ing from the third worst to 12th worst — a “dra­mat­ic improve­ment” as Auto­Van­tage not­ed.

Mul­ti­ple fac­tors affect our atti­tudes en route:
• Crowd­ed roads
• Aging infra­struc­ture that leads to either pot­hole-rid­den pave­ment or long con­struc­tion zones
• Work-life stress
• Dri­vers who lock up the left lane by dri­ving 61 mph abreast of a speed-lim­it­ed semi-truck
• Non-stop chat­ter­ers who mer­ri­ly tool along, out of step with pre­vail­ing traf­fic pat­terns
• GPS bots who change lane with­out apply­ing com­mon sense to the tim­ing of lane changes, turns and brak­ing.

“There are a num­ber of peo­ple whose skills are just not that good,” said Steve Albrecht, a Cal­i­for­nia work­place vio­lence and anger man­age­ment expert. “And they don’t real­ize the impact they are hav­ing on oth­ers.”

And they’re unlike­ly to real­ize the error of their ways no mat­ter how many times they’re honked at, cursed or on the receiv­ing end of angry ges­tures, he said.

“You can’t con­trol oth­er peo­ple,” he said. “They are not tar­get­ing you per­son­al­ly, so stop car­ing about what every­body else is doing. And if you’re still talk­ing about those bad dri­vers by lunchtime, you have a prob­lem. You’ve let it ruin your day, and the oth­er dri­ver has won.”

“Get there safe and get there hap­py — that, after all, is your goal,” he said.

Read the orig­i­nal arti­cle.


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