Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Cure for Road Rage

It has almost been a year since my last blog post. I think that may be related to the fact that the Subway near my office is now closed. No more meditation sessions over foot-longs.

I have tried different approaches to convincing myself to not to get worked up when other drivers make aggressive or seemingly inconsiderate moves.

In retrospect, the cure seems perfectly suited for me.

I read an article about x number of driving habits to improve fuel economy from some auto publication online. Unfortunately I cannot remember the links. They claimed to have experimented with a large sample size of different vehicles but did not actually include any information from the tests. Most of the points they made were fairly logical but others were counter-intuitive.

For one, it said if you need to cool down, roll your windows down if you are off the freeway, but turn on the A/C if you are on the freeway. Simple enough.

The habits that I applied that really cured the rage were:
1) Try to avoid using brakes. If you have to use your brakes, you used too much fuel to get there too quickly. It kills kinetic energy.
2) 55 is most cars optimal cruising speed for fuel efficiency. Unless you are driving really far, if you drive 55 or 65 you will get there at almost the same time on average. Maybe 30 seconds later. The article did include that it is unwise to go slower than the flow of traffic, but hey, if your lane is going 55, don't sweat it.

Now the reason these habits or mindsets cured my rage is because it gave me a reason to not drive aggressively and it helped me realize the cost of driving aggressively. When someone accelerates and cuts me off and hits the brakes, I used to think, "Oh that jerk, I have to teach him a lesson and create a social cost for him so he won't do it next time." It is my desire for justice as well as applied economic reasoning. Now I think, "Poor sap is going to pay for that at the tank. Oh well, his choice. If he wants to make costly choices, its his money." I mean, there are still externalities there, but at least there is some existing cost to put my mind at ease. I no longer feel the anger and need to enforce driving etiquette.

The best part is I also gained a MPG or two by using the new habits.