(Image from: http://www.caradvice.com.au/310508/road-rage-why-are-you-so-angry/ – and this is a fantastic article worth reading!)
I will admit, I can get a *wee* bit agro on the road sometimes. You may not know it, even if you’re in the car with me. I generally look like I’m keeping my cool (like the cucumber in the pic below, cup of coffee [chicken broth] in hand) but on the inside, I am often boiling…with anger and frustration towards drivers who are being, well, less than considerate of others.
Each and every week day, on a normal traffic-is-flowing-ok kinda day, I drive a minimum of 20 minutes from our home to drop our four kids off at two different schools. That’s 20 minutes each way, 40 minutes per round trip, 80 minutes a day, 5 hours 40 minutes a week…and that’s if I’m just dropping them off and heading straight home. We live in a semi-rural location and there are only two routes to get my kids to school…the shortest, most direct route, and the longer, all the way around a big wildlife park and nature reserve, route. For over a year, up until a couple of months ago when it was finally completed, the main road we take from our home to the kids’ schools was under development as the council upgraded it from a two-lane to four-lane road. This was a very welcome move we are thrilled about as there have been many crashes on this road, several tragically fatal. Prior to the road upgrade, there was one such serious accident along this main road and that particular day, it took over 1.5 hours to get my kids to school. I nearly gave up trying after I was turned around by a road block and ended up driving the opposite direction past my street 40 minutes after leaving home!
During the road upgrade, our 20 minute one way trip turned into a minimum 40 minute one way trip as we navigated through 40km/hour roadwork zones (which I completely condone – our workers need to be safe!) and oh-so-frustrating merges. Yes, I just said the ‘M’ word. Perth drivers are notorious for their lack of merging skills…’cause ya know, it should take a degree in Merging 101. The seemingly simple two lanes becoming one, which should look like a zipper with cars from the two lanes neatly alternating/taking turns *gasp* politely with each other until they form one neat and tidy, calm lane. Nope. I witnessed day after day, drivers doing 80km through the 40km zone to then duck into the left lane in front of that very last car, narrowly escaping a collision with the flashing yellow arrow sign that could be seen from a distance of about 200-300m away. (Not to mention, they also obviously travelled down this road regularly so the merge was no surprise).
Since the road upgrade, we are back to a 20 minute drive to school again and things are in general much calmer and safer. But there are still speeders – some of them I’d be estimating 20-30km/hr over the limit – (including P-platers and cars with “Baby on Board” signs), right-lane-hoggers, tailgaters (SO dangerous), duckers-and-weavers and road-ragers. I have travelled a fair bit within Aus and internationally and I swear, Perth drivers are the least considerate and the most aggressive I have ever come across (and it feels like they are getting worse!)
On an average school day, by the time I reach what I not so affectionately refer to as “The Gauntlet”, the road on which my kids go to school (where there are THREE schools all within a couple hundred metres of each other) I quite often feel like I am ready to explode. My nerves are on edge and I am on high alert as I navigate along this road trying to avoid hitting children who are crossing, cars pulling in and out from the side parking bays, and other cars that illegally and abruptly stop in the middle of the road to let their children out. Once I reach the high school (my second destination) to drop off my older kids, I quite often find cars parked in the well-marked, only Kiss-N-Drive in the entire (K-Yr 12) school…which is right next to a half-empty, recently expanded and upgraded, carpark! Grrrrr.
I really dislike feeling this way, especially when it is the start of my day, and know I must make a conscious effort to keep my cool, like the dude below, and not become another crazed road-rager like the lady above. This is what I am going to work on:
- Leave home on time. Sounds simple huh? Well, if it means getting organised the night before and getting up a little earlier so I LEAVE the house feeling calm and in control, then it’s much easier to STAY calm on the road, isn’t it? Leaving home already stressed and running late is a recipe for disaster on the road.
- Make a conscious decision to be a positive role model for my children. My kids learn more by observing my behaviour than by hearing what I have to say. And if what I say does not match my actions, my children soon learn to ignore my words and only imitate what they see (plus I look like a dishonest fraud!) With 2 teenage/tween boys full of testosterone, and a daughter on her L’s, it is vital for me to remember that how they learn to drive (and treat other people!) will be primarily from what they observe in my behaviour when on the road. They are not only learning how to physically control a vehicle (change gears, indicate when exiting a roundabout), they are also learning road etiquette and how to be (or not be!) considerate of others around them.
- Reduce distractions and increase positivity within the car. By distractions, I mainly refer to ‘children arguing’, which increases stress levels within the car instantly (no, I’m not going to make them walk, though it has crossed my mind…) Whose children do not fight and argue in the car? Anyone? Anyone? Please let me know if yours don’t and what you do!! I notice my children don’t argue/get on each other’s nerves when occupied so I will be encouraging my kids from this day forth to BRING A BOOK in the car. Read a book, don’t annoy each other. Simple. I will also endeavour to play music we all enjoy and I will add some calming essential oils to a tissue which I will place between a couple of the air con vents.
- Mark 12: 30-31. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Did you see that? “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Neighbour = everyone other than self. Yourself = me. LOVE. Is it really that simple? I think it very well may be…
What does this LOVE look like in practise? If someone is indicating to change lane, even if about to cut me off, let them in. If someone is speeding past, let them go. If someone is tailgating…hmmm, that’s a good one…move over and let them pass? (or at the very least don’t provoke!) Take positive action and actually make someone else’s day (maybe their kids are bickering in the back of the car!) by letting them out of the parking bay or school carpark with a smile, instead of rushing past to be first. Loving others is being considerate of them. Treating them the way I want to be treated. How much better would our roads be if we all loved each other as ourselves?
Are you a cool cucumber when on the road? Please feel free to share your tips on how to keep your cool – I’d love to hear them! 🙂