Zen and the Art of Being Stuck in Traffic

Jul 4, 2024 | Beginner Driving Tips

You’re stuck in heavy traffic. You see the lane next to you start moving faster and now you’re tempted to switch lanes. You hesitate, wondering if it’s really worth the hassle or if it will just slow you down more. What should you do?

According to a study conducted by the University of Toronto, not only is switching lanes not any faster, it also makes you vulnerable to potential dangers from both lanes of traffic.

In the study, researchers found that 70% of driving students, who were shown a video recorded from a moving vehicle, mistakenly believed traffic in the next lane was moving faster, even though it was actually moving slower.

Stay the Course: Our eyes may trick us into believing that other lanes are moving faster, but in reality the best course of action is to simply do nothing. What a relief!

Dealing with the Mental Aspect

In traffic, the sense of being trapped, a lack of control, and fear of being late can increase our anxiety, stress and irritability.

Here’s how to better manage the mental side of being stuck in traffic:

Be patient and accept that it’ll take slightly longer to reach your destination.

Use the right lane when possible to avoid aggressive drivers.

• If someone cuts in front of you, simply adjust your speed to maintain a safe following distance.

Here’s something to be proud of: Canadian drivers are surprisingly Zen when it comes to driving in gridlock traffic. Only 17% of drivers surveyed in Pollara Strategic Insight’s “Road Rage Index” reported being angered by heavy traffic.

The study found that Canadians tend to get more annoyed by specific actions of individual drivers—like blowing through a stop sign or a red light, or talking on their cell phones—than general traffic conditions. Now that’s enlightened, eh?

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