Our National Driver's Education curriculum needs to be overhauled. At least half of the teaching time needs to be devoted to courtesy on the road. We all have a tendency towards road rage and frankly, it’s too often justified. When we get behind the wheel, it's as if an alter-ego takes over and all human decency goes out the window. Many of the delays and traffic jams are caused by people being jerks. One day this Spring, Benedict and I were caught in some heavy traffic on our way to pick up Alison from work. While in a 20-minute traffic jam, I saw a man who had all of his windows down, his headphones in, and smoking a cigar. While I don't approve of the headphones, I do approve of his attitude. He was in traffic, there was no way to avoid it, so he was going to enjoy it.
We can all learn a lot from this man. First, we should plan ahead. If you’re traveling during a busy time, give yourself extra time to get where you’re going so that you have nothing to stress about. The drive takes however long it takes and there's nothing to be done about it, so that extra time is your safety net. As long as you know how long it will take to get to your destination, and you leave yourself plenty of time, there will be nothing to worry about. It may take 30 minutes longer than it usually does, but you'll still arrive on time, and that's all that you need to be concerned about.
Next, remain calm. Bring some great music in the car or enjoy your company. If the weather is nice, roll down the windows and feel the breeze. Look around at the scenery and notice things that you wouldn't notice at 70 miles per hour. Make this an experience, not something to dread.
Finally, get good intelligence. I use the Waze app everywhere I drive, so I know the best route. Waze helps me minimize the amount of traffic I sit through, although some of it is inevitable. Of course, no matter what, you'll run into a bunch of jerks trying to cheat the system, but there's no use getting mad at their poor etiquette. There's nothing to be done.
While we may never get all of the jerks off of the road, there are certainly things we can do to make our traffic jam experience more bearable. Leave with plenty of time to spare, relax, and remain calm. Do all of these things and you may find yourself a happier driver, even in the worse traffic jams.