We all know there are people out there who are “driving under the influence” of legal or illegal drugs, or who have had too much to drink, or have not had enough sleep….
But did you know that we All might be “driving under the influence”?
Yes, I hear you: What on earth is she talking about?
It’s simple: Everything that happens in our life affects us in some way, and that can carry over into our driving. Yep. I can prove it – Here we go!
Imagine you’ve had what I’ll call “the day from hell”. Your boss was in freak-out mode, yelling at you about nothing. Or you just had your hours cut in half! Driving home, you suddenly realize you forgot to renew your vehicle registration. The deadline’s tomorrow. So you wait two hours in line after work to renew it. At home, you open your mail, and using your heat/air conditioning raised your electric bill by $100.
You get the idea. One thing after another has dumped on your head.
And it doesn’t stop. You open the frig, and realize you forgot to buy frozen blueberries for your favorite morning smoothie. In the car, headed to the grocery store, you come to a place on the highway where people need to merge into your lane. What do you feel like doing?…….. Yes! “NO one is getting into my lane!” as you accelerate to close the space between you and the person in front of you.
Some months have passed. You had transferred to a different job. Today your new boss comes to you and says, “We are so lucky to have you in this department. No one else is able to do the things you know how to do. I have decided to give you a year end bonus.” You arrive home, open the mail, and discover that the milder weather dropped your electric bill by $100 this month. There’s even a nice check in the mail from your car insurance company as the annual bonus for your safe driving record.
Again, you get the idea. You feel like you’re floating as one good thing happens after another.
Now, you and your spouse decide to go celebrate the upcoming bonus at your favorite restaurant. You’re driving there, and you come to that place on the highway where people need to merge into your lane. What do you do?
Yes! Unless you can’t even imagine good things happening to you, you’re now saying, “Come on over – there’s room for everybody!” as you let the other driver into your lane. Radically different response from the first scenario, isn’t it?
What’s the Only thing that changed from that first trip to the second trip? What you were thinking.
Or, in other words, how we let what is happening in our life affect us, even to our driving. Many of us “drive under that influence”.
When life sincerely stinks, letting that influence us might create anger, viciousness, nasty comments we don’t even mean, car accidents, you name it. (Happily, if we choose to, there Can be a difference between what we feel like doing and what we actually do. Thank goodness! And in a case like this, that difference can keep us out of traffic accidents.) Isn’t it amazing how life events can influence our driving if we let them?
So here’s how knowing about “driving under the influence” applies to “Safe Summer Driving”:
You’re driving around this summer. Someone makes an idiotic driving move. You have 2 choices:
Choice #1: Risk your vehicle and you – and anyone else in the car – to “prove” to them that they are a bad driver – refuse to let them merge, give them the middle finger wave, ride on their bumper, cut them off – we’ve seen it all.
Choice #2: Realize that they are “driving under the influence”, and that their life sincerely stinks right now. By the way they are driving, they are demonstrating how insecure they are, or much they hate their life, or how it seems like awful things keep crashing on their head. Here’s where You choose to demonstrate your brilliance by keeping yourself, your vehicle and any loved ones in the car (your “precious cargo”) safe by not engaging with that person who is “under the influence”.
Depending on the situation, you might just get out of their way. Or if they look embarrassed at their bonehead move, you could give them a sincere smile as if to say, “I forgive your bonehead move. We are all in this together.” Or you might tell yourself, “Man, oh, man, their life must stink right now. I hope it gets better soon.” And you avoid interacting with the bad driver in any way.
So as you drive around town, or travel on vacation this summer, I encourage you to pick the #1 Tip for Safe Summer Driving: Choice #2. Realizing every poor driver is someone “driving under the influence” allows you mental freedom. You know what their problem is, and you just keep out of their way. You keep yourself and all your precious cargo safe, and enjoy your travels.
Have fun this summer, and Happy Fourth of July!