If you would like to be driving 5 mph faster than you are, but someone is preventing you, stop and think about how much difference the extra 5 mph makes to your overall life goals. If the answer is â€œnot very much,â€ then try to keep from getting angry. Angry people are bad drivers.
To which I say: absolutely. Getting angry at other people does zero good. It does zero good to your psyche, it does zero good to your and others’ safety, it does zero good toward accomplishing your goals. You should try to do as good a job as you can driving in the context of the drivers you’re actually surrounded by, instead of pretending/wishing that you’re surrounded by clones of yourself and getting frustrated when you’re reminded that that isn’t the case.
So don’t tailgate. Don’t pass the car ahead of you if, in order to do that, you have to force your way into adjacent lanes. Don’t erratically alter your speed.
Things you can do in this situation:
- Marvel at the wondrous variety of your fellow drivers, try to develop a mental model of their behavior, and think about how you can detect various varieties of inferior drivers earlier. This is not only more fun, this increases the chance that you’ll be able to respond effectively to them, e.g. by changing lanes when there was a hole in the left lane 30 seconds ago instead of waiting until you’re right behind them and boxed in on both sides.
- Think about whether or not you ever exhibit the behavior of the driver that you’re currently annoyed at. Does this suggest ways in which you should alter your behavior in the future? In which you should alter your behavior right now? Can you think of reasons why the driver in front of you might, in fact, be behaving completely reasonably right now?
- Compose your next blog post in your head. (As long as doing so isn’t excessively distracting.)
Having said that, if I am stuck behind a car that I wish were either going faster or would get out of my way, and if I believe that car can actually do something about the situation, I drive a little closer to the car than I normally would. (Don’t get me wrong, I still leave more than enough room for safety, just not the ridiculous margin I might otherwise leave.) I justify this in terms of my fifth suggestion from before: for all I know, other drivers would be perfectly happy to get out of my way if they knew they were hindering me; and the primary means of communication I have in this situation is my following distance. Certainly I’m more likely to move a lane to my right if the car behind me is driving in a way that makes me think they’d rather be going faster than if they’re 15 car lengths behind me and matching my speed.
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