Adopting The Right Attitude: Tips for Dealing with Road RageUpdated Oct. 25, 2020
Learning to drive is not a task to be taken lightly. It is important to mentally prepare yourself for the mix of emotions you will undoubtedly experience while in the driver’s seat. At times, you will feel excitement, exhilaration, freedom and a sense of power. Though these are essentially positive feelings, they can still be overwhelming and could end up negatively impacting your ability to drive safely.
You must also accept that driving is not always a positive experience. Depending on the actions of other road users and events in the roadway environment, you may experience anxiety, nervousness, frustration or anger. Adopting a positive, self-reflective attitude from the start of your learning journey will help you to keep these emotions in check and stay safe behind the wheel.
The importance of a positive attitude
The importance of adopting a positive driving attitude for road rage prevention cannot be overstated. You could be the most skilled and well-studied driver on the planet but still pose a danger to yourself and others every time you hop into the driver’s seat, if you do so with a bad attitude. So, why does your attitude matter?
The choices you make while driving are the single biggest influencing factor when it comes to the level of risk you are exposed to. Making the correct choices will protect you from 99% of all roadway conflicts. On the other hand, making the wrong choices will dramatically increase the risk you face in every roadway situation. If you become a bad driver who chooses poorly, it is only a matter of time before you are involved in a traffic accident.
Your attitude behind the wheel will determine the type of choices you make as a driver. If you get into the car with a courteous, conscientious and considerate attitude, you are more likely to make safe driving decisions. Behave inconsiderately or act like “God’s gift to driving” and you will eventually make a mistake – probably sooner rather than later. Remember that any mistake you make could cost you your life.
Avoid dangerous emotions
It is easy to feel powerful and untouchable in the driver’s seat. Remind yourself of the danger you face every time you drive, to avoid developing a dangerous driving attitude. Emotions like anger, egotism, laziness and impulsivity have no place behind the wheel. You must learn to identify these negative qualities in yourself as they arise and stamp them out, before they can put you at risk.
Identify your negative influences
Drivers with bad attitudes are often shaped by prolonged exposure to other drivers with bad attitudes. The way we think is dramatically influenced by the people closest to us. If a parent, older sibling or friend regularly displays a poor attitude to driving, it is likely you will have acquired some of their dangerous habits. These inherited traits can be difficult to spot and even harder to rectify, which is why maintaining a self-reflective attitude while learning to drive is so important.
Consider whether any of the following apply to your experience of driving, before becoming a student driver yourself:
You have a parent who becomes visibly frustrated at the wheel and regularly shouts or sounds the horn at other drivers.
Your favorite movies or TV shows feature characters who drive dangerously and are rewarded for it with high social status.
Your friends think nothing of driving recklessly. They frequently show off while driving, receiving praise for speeding, wheel spinning, racing or playing chicken.
You may not think that any of these experiences will shape the way that you drive but if you don’t monitor your attitude closely, it can easily happen. Remember that just because something feels “normal” does not mean it is normal, or safe.
Engaging in commentary driving with your instructor can help you to develop a positive driving attitude, by rooting out any problematic thought processes as you learn. Next time you take a lesson, talk to your instructor about the things you notice on the roadway ahead and how you intend to adjust your driving behavior as a result. As a trained instructor, they will quickly notice harmful attitudes and bad habits that affect your reasoning ability and can teach you to correct them.
Practice is important when you are learning to drive but keep in mind that only mindful practice can fix bad driving habits. If you frequently drive with your parents or friends without employing a self-reflective attitude, you could end up worsening bad habits rather than solving them.
Learning to correct bad driving habits
Developing a positive attitude and safe driving habits takes focus and repetition. As you become aware of a bad habit forming, consider what action could best replace that habit to make you a safer driver. Then practice applying the new, positive habit, again and again, until you do it automatically.
Keep in mind that forming a “good” habit does not mean your work is done. As you gain experience and become more comfortable behind the wheel, good habits can easily be undone by laziness or overconfidence. Maintaining a positive attitude behind the wheel is a lifetime commitment. You must always pay attention to the way you make decisions behind the wheel and nip bad habits in the bud right away.
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