What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

21 June 2017

Seeing Red (Lights)

I don't know what causes road rage. I do know what I'd like to do to people who act on their road rage. But studying the root causes of this behaviour is well outside my areas of interest.

However, I do have my suspicions, every time I hear someone complain bitterly about heavy traffic or road construction or both. (Or, of course, hear them complain about having to slow down for a few seconds to safely pass a person on a bike. Here's a little tip that should be no surprise to anyone--if you complain to me about that, expect an earful. No one has ever made that mistake twice.) It seems some folks expect an easy-flowing, obstacle-free drive to everywhere, at all hours of the day, every day.

You're going to get stuck. It's going to happen.
Source: Lonnie Bradley on freeimages.com.
My friends, the automobile industry has sold us a bill of goods. And of course they have--it's in the interest of their own pockets to convince people that getting from A to B is easy peasy. No matter how many cupholders an SUV has, images of it stuck in a colossal traffic jam are not going to get many vehicles rolling out of the showroom.

As with so many other areas of our collective lives, it may be time to lower our expectations. No one is always going to get every green light. No street is exempt from folks crashing their cars into things and causing a snarl. Traffic lights fail, natural disasters don't care about your route to work, roads crumble and have to be repaired.

And if that weren't enough, when the majority of Americans own cars and the majority of Americans drive alone and the majority of Americans go to work at about the same time of day, traffic can't possibly flow right along. No matter how badly we want it to. No matter what it used to be like just a couple years ago. And as the saying goes, you aren't sitting in traffic--you are traffic.

If all of this is making your blood pressure rise just thinking about it, then maybe it's time to reconsider what you expect from your car. What do you get to control? The temperature, the music, who comes along with you. What can't you control? How many other people want to go the same place you do. What can you control? Your reaction to delays and detours and things generally going wrong. Cars aren't teleporters. They aren't magic. Other road users aren't your enemies. They're just people also trying to get on with their lives. And if you get into your car knowing ahead of time that something on your route will go awry, expecting that delays will happen and jams will get jammy, then maybe your reaction to it happening will be less outraged surprise and more "good thing I'm enjoying this podcast I'm listening to."

And a little less rage goes a long way toward a pleasant trip.

(Before my fellow active transportation users get out the pitchforks and torches--if you can avoid driving, by busing or walking or biking or even by taking turns carpooling, your trip is likely to be less rage-inducing and more relaxing. There's even some research about that.)


Crystal Collier said...

Excellent thoughts. I've made it a practice to plan more time than necessary getting places since living in NYC, and I think that makes a world of difference. Still, we all have those moments when someone cuts you off, crashes into your bumper, or engages in other, less-than-polite maneuvers. It really is our choice how much we let it affect us.

Su Wilcox said...

Yes, exactly! No one's bad behaviour forces anyone else to behave just as badly. But it seems this is not common knowledge.