Bring Genteelness to Your Driving

I always thought that the way people drive in Israel is uncivilized until I had the chance to drive a small motorcycle for few days, just a week ago, in the south of India. Watching the crazy traffic in India and the never-ending blowing horns, triggered me to pause and think – can we change our driving habits? I would like to start with two small insights:

The first one I’ve read somewhere – Imagine that you drive a rented car in Harlem, New York, and suddenly a car dangerously cuts into your way. It is a red convertible, with full volume radio, and two big African Americans are sitting in the car. Will you wave your fist or curse them? Will you get out of your car at the first traffic light and lecture them? Assuming you are reasonable I guess you would bite your tongue and refrain from any response. This example leads to an interesting conclusion – practically, we can master our reactions!

Stephen Covey wrote that between stimulus and reaction lies our most powerful strength – the freedom to Choose. The word ‘responsible’, he says, can be divided to two: response-ability; your ability to choose your response.

The second insight is personal – I remember the day that my youngest daughter, Einav, received her new driving license. I accompanied her while she drove our car for the first time. I was quite worried for the car but very proud of her and I said to myself again and again to refrain from comments. While she was putting the safety belt and preparing to leave the parking lot, somebody cut into her way aggressively. She immediately said: “You moron! You should learn to drive!”

“To whom she addressed it?” I thought to myself, “the other driver didn’t hear anything and he is long gone.” Then I understood. She spoke to herself and to me. That’s the way she is used to hear drivers speak and maybe she even learned this from me. An experienced good driver is characterized not only by his good driving but also by his remarks on others. By criticizing others he automatically makes himself a better driver. And this is exactly how my dear daughter behaved on her first driving moments!

 

Following these two anecdotes I will take the freedom to suggest ‘how can we change our attitude while driving’:

 

* Give up the need to correct and “fix” other drivers - From the Harlem example, it can be drawn that we are able to control our reactions. I’ll dare to say that most of us are probably not the best drivers on earth and that we all make mistakes while driving. So it may be better to give up criticizing, getting annoyed, and making the other wrong. It will be better for our health.

* Give the right of way as much as possible – Give it to other drivers and to pedestrians and do not forget the hand gesture that shows the other that you are willing to give him a priority. Isn’t it a great feeling when they nod their heads as a sign of appreciation?

* Do not block the junctions in order to ‘steal’ a green light – In Israel it is one of the most annoying, inconsiderate driving diseases. Be patient, wait for the next green light and just don’t block the junction.

* Last but not least, stop using the horn frequently – I know that in some countries it is very popular, but still it makes our driving more anxious. Blow the horn only in real emergencies. In all other cases signal with your lights instead. Someone is not moving quickly enough when the light turns green, signal with the lights; someone is driving slowly in the wrong lane, signal with your lights. In general just be more patient.

 

So change the way you drive and you’ll feel calmer. I personally believe that such a change in the way we drive will help us to draw some conclusions on “choosing our reaction” in other areas of life, instead of blaming our genes and character.
 
Fireworks (48)
Shuka, from Cochin, India
Thursday, February 4, 2010                

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