You’re running late, which means your stress levels are running high. This can lead to reckless and aggressive driving, which could in turn lead to an accident, a ticket, or worse.
Of course the best way to get where you’re going safely is by giving yourself enough time to make the trip. This might mean waking up 15 minutes early, or leaving your social engagement with a bit more time to get to your next meeting. But even the best-laid plans can go awry, and we all find ourselves rushing from point A to point B at some point. If this happens to you, follow these five tips to keep yourself and others safe on the road:
Take a deep breath.
Or ten. If you have feelings of aggression and frustration towards other drivers welling up inside you because you’re in a hurry and you think they’re driving too slow, don’t give in to these feelings. Aggressive driving is a threat to you and everyone else on the road, as it can lead to negligence and greatly increase your risk of getting into an accident, or receiving a hefty ticket. Do yourself, and everyone else on the road, a favor and take some deep breaths, roll down your window for some fresh air, or practice a mindfulness exercise – whatever it takes to calm yourself down.
No matter how rushed you are, tailgating is not going to get you to your destination faster. In fact it’s one of the most dangerous habits a driver can have, and puts you at the highest risk of rear-ending another vehicle. Think about it; the other car stops suddenly, and you’re left with little or no time to break. A good rule of thumb is to leave 10 feet for every 10 mph between you and the car in front of you.
Speed limits exist for a reason. And no, it’s not to prevent you from getting to where you’re going on time. In cities and on highways speed limits are posted to correspond with the conditions of the road and its obstacles. If there are stop signs or traffic lights along your route, going the speed limit will give you the right amount of time to stop safely in the space available to you. The faster you go, the less distance and time you will have to react to a quick stop. Exceeding the speed limit can also increase the impact (and the consequences) of a crash.
Obey the traffic signals.
Running stop signs or red lights is not only unsafe, it’s selfish. Traffic is a community phenomenon; a social interaction. In order for everyone on the road to get where they’re going in one piece, all drivers need to respect the designated code. If you’re out there blowing through a four way stop because you’re in a rush, you’re putting yourself and others at risk of a collision.
Cut out distractions.
You’re already feeling frazzled and worried about showing up late, so don’t make it worse by further distracting your mind from the task at hand; driving. While texting and driving is always a bad idea, it’s even more dangerous when you’re in a hurry. Multitasking behind the wheel is never a good idea. If you’re checking your phone, touching up your makeup, or scarfing down your breakfast while hurrying to your destination, your reaction time will be even more delayed if there is a change in the traffic pattern.