An easy way to make driving more pleasant


Driving provides all kinds of excuses to get annoyed.

I’m appalled by people who cut in without signaling, weave between cars, don’t leave space to change lanes.

Each of us is the hero of our own story, and I don’t think of myself as the jerk—hey, I use turn signals! But I get gripped by a sense of urgency on the road, even when I have plenty of time to get to my destination.  I get irritated when a driver in front of me is going two miles an hour under my preferred speed. (Really? That’s gonna make a difference in my arrival time?)  I curse at inconsiderate drivers (this happens inside my car, with the windows up), even though it doesn’t make me feel any better.

Why can’t people be more courteous?, I fume. More respectful?

One day behind the wheel, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t hurt to apply that question to myself. What would it be like to make courteous and respectful driving my own standard?

It changed everything about the hour-long drive.

When tempted to speed up and pass, I thought “courteous and respectful” . . . and calmly assessed whether passing was worth the trouble. I quit worrying about whether I was in the lane with the fastest traffic flow. When other drivers were rude, I thought, “Wow, that wasn’t very courteous. But I can still be courteous.”

I saw someone signaling in the next lane over, and instead of zipping past and letting them find a pocket behind me, I tapped my brakes and let the driver in. It felt great. I was surprised at how great it felt.

Oddly, “courteous and respectful” motivates me more than “be safe.”  And I arrive in a much better mood.



  1. Niki says:

    Wow! This requires a lot of self control…I will give it a try 🙂

  2. Janet Bailey says:

    @Niki – You know, when I frame it as “courteous and respectful” (rather than “be careful” or “don’t be a jerk”), I find that I *don’t* have to marshal a lot of self-control. It’s more inherently rewarding.

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