October is Positive Attitude Month. Sometimes keeping a positive attitude is a real struggle. It’s not always realistic to think we’ll be able to keep a positive attitude at all times, but there’s once place where we should always strive to have a positive attitude: on the road! Negative attitudes on the road can lead to collisions and even serious injury.
Aggressive driving is when a driver operates their vehicle recklessly, often because they’re frustrated, angry or impatient. Aggressive driving can include excessive speed, frequent or dangerous lane changes, failure to signal, tailgating, and failure to yield the right-of-way. Drivers with positive attitudes usually do not commit aggressive driving offenses.
If someone else on the road is driving aggressively, try to keep a positive attitude. After all, you can’t really change another person’s behavior. All you can control is your own reaction. Instead of getting angry or trying to retaliate, put some distance between yourself and the other driver. Stop in a safe place if you need to and take a beat to regroup before continuing your drive. If you respond with a bad attitude, you’re just putting yourself at risk of a collision.
Another way that negative attitudes affect our driving is by making us less aware of those around us. Drivers who are experiencing a strong emotion often feel cut off from the outside world and what’s going on around them, like they’re living in an insulated bubble. This detachment may cause them to make risky maneuvers they wouldn’t otherwise make, such as suddenly changing lanes without signaling or looking, or cutting across several lanes of traffic to take an off-ramp because they didn’t notice the exit in time.
Similarly, stress can also negatively impact our driving. Stress is a significant emotion that can arise from many different sources, including our environment (e.g., traffic jams, reckless drivers around us), what we eat (e.g., skipping breakfast or drinking too much coffee), the state of our own bodies (e.g., headaches, nausea, or fatigue), and our emotions (e.g., anger after your team loses a game, arguments with your friends, coworkers, or family). Sources can be external or internal.
If you’re feeling a strong emotion that affects your attitude, whether it’s a positive or negative emotion, try to avoid driving until you’re feeling calm. If traffic is a major stressor, try to find alternative routes or, again, leave the house early so that you have extra time built-in. If these stressors cannot be avoided, try to change your attitude about them. For instance, listen to your favorite music or audio book while you wait in traffic to try to make it a more relaxing, enjoyable experience. You may also try deep breathing exercises to calm down.
This October, commit to keeping a positive driving attitude! It’s more important than you may think! We hope you found this helpful and that you stay safe on the road. If you would like to learn more about traffic safety topics like this, check out one of our online driving courses!