Drive friendly: the Texas way

When you drive across the Texas border, a welcome sign reads: “Drive friendly – the Texas way.” Living in Waco, this proposition should be fairly simple to uphold. After all, there isn’t excessive traffic at rush hour, and freeway pileups don’t run rampant. Despite it all, most drivers, even in Waco, tend to hold a pessimistic mindset while navigating the roads.

Whether it stems from crowded highways, unrelated stress or bad time management, road rage can loom over our daily routes. Car crashes peak among college-aged drivers (18 to 25 year olds) at more than 215,501 crashes total in 2015 according to the Texas Department of Transportation. With our busy schedules and our late nights studying, it’s no surprise that we are more susceptible to car accidents. We should keep that in mind while on the road and remember to be hyperaware of ourselves and others.

Angry driving may seem like it affects just us – after all, the other driver who cut us off can’t hear our obscenities anyway. However, road rage can lead to dangerous driving habits and even car crashes. In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that in 2015, 281 crashes were directly caused by road rage.

According to the American Psychological Association, angry drivers are more likely to speed, switch lanes quickly, tailgate and run red lights. Almost every driver has experienced this – many of us have been both victims and perpetrators.

With anything, it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every story. While someone might appear to be a rude driver changing lanes right before their freeway exit, it may be that they are just lost or not sure which exit to take.

We all make mistakes. It’s not fair to judge someone for their mistakes and jump to conclusions, victimizing ourselves in the process. It’s that victimization mentality that allows us to convince ourselves that the other driver must have cut us off on purpose to intentionally spite us. So we yell obscenities at them and act as if we would never do something that irresponsible and rude.

Now, with the rainy season encroaching upon Central Texas, Waco drivers need to remain alert on the roads – Not just to ensure that we follow the laws and keep ourselves safe, but so that we remember to check our attitude as well.

A small act of kindness, such as forgiving someone who cuts you off and smiling at them instead of flipping the bird, or not tailgating someone who drives too slowly in front of you on a one-lane highway can go a long way. Keeping a positive internal attitude can result in an outward expression of that same positivity and kindness. Let’s get back to the Texas way of driving friendly, just like the welcome signs tell us.

We need to recognize that human nature means making mistakes and we need to have patience for one another – even on I-35.