Driving Us Crazy!

As I was driving to work today, despite using Waze, I ran into an unexpected lane closure that backed up traffic on an artery road. There was gridlock, and cars were getting through a traffic light one or two at a time. People couldn’t turn left across the line of cars with drivers impatient to move forward, thereby blocking the intersection.

It was frustrating at first, being stuck there with no way out except to wait. The worst part, though, was watching other people. Not waiting their turn. Throwing up their arms in frustration. Yelling out their windows. And I thought – why the emotions?

Late to the office? People understand traffic.

Late to a doctor’s appointment? So what – they always make you wait anyway.

Late to have breakfast with someone? They also understand traffic.

Late to take your child to school? Your kid is thankful for the delay.

Late to go home? Your family rather have you a bit later and relaxed.

Late to testify in front on Congress? Uh, well, ….

There’s not much we are going towards that’s so important that we seeth in anger when delayed. In it’s most extreme form, we call it “road rage” and people get hurt or even killed.

So why do we get so mad? We hate sitting in traffic. And its costs are huge in terms of our time and gas; almost 2 billion gallons of fuel are lost each year from traffic congestion. Yet we apparently hate sharing rides or taking public transit even more. We’ve set ourselves up for this – uncontrolled growth in areas without an adequate transportation infrastructure.

But maybe there’s more to why we hate driving.

We are out of touch.

Maybe we’re not yet evolved to the motorized vehicle. It’s only been common for the last two generations. Perhaps we simply aren’t wired to be in a tonnage of metal and plastic with more power than a hundred horses. Not to mention the noxious fumes we breathe while in vehicles. Removed from nature, from our surroundings. How can the human mind process the world whizzing by at 60 mph, or at any speed within our rolling cocoons?

Next time you are in a traffic jam, or another driver cuts you off, please remember that it’s not worth the anger. Unless your delay is endangering someone else’s life, it’s not that important.

Slow down. You’ll get there.