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Ways to Reduce Road Stress When in a Hurry

Updated on February 2, 2013

Road stress is a mild form of road rage. You might not honk, flip the bird, or scream at other drivers, but you sure want to. You also tailgate them when you are on a two-way road, or boil for every second you are stuck at a red light. Slow drivers, stop lights, stop signs, traffic, pedestrians, and merge lanes can get people stressed out when they are in a hurry. Here are few suggestions for dealing with this stress.


From my house to my university, 90% of the road is a two-way, meaning there are only two lanes going opposite ways. So any time I was running late for a class, I often caught up with a driver going just under the speed limit, and the only way to pass her/him was to drive onto the other lane temporarily. Some people don’t have a problem with this, but I always felt like a jerk when I drove pass; it was like I was criticizing them for driving at that speed. After all, I am going out of my way, risking a slight chance of a head-on collision just to pass them—doesn’t that tell the other person that s/he is a slowpoke?

Well, guess what? It’s even more insulting to tailgate them for five minutes. Once I made that mistake (although I didn’t realize I was driving so close) one night when I was rushing home. The driver was driving five mph under the speed limit, and around here most people drive five over. I thought it would be rude to pass them albeit it was irritating me. Finally after five minutes, I drove pass them. If I would have just done that to begin with, I don’t think they would have bothered me. But the whole time I was behind them, they knew it and they were also irritated. So the moment I got in front of them, they turned on their high beams and tailgated me! I wished they were moving that fast 10 minutes before. All my mirrors were so bright, I had to turn them away from me; I couldn’t see. It was also a little scary considering I was driving by myself on a dark county road; I had no idea who or how many people I just ticked off and now chasing me. Thankfully they backed off once we got on a main road. While it was wrong and reckless of them to use their high beams on me, I understood why they did it.

So tailgating for more than a few minutes is a losing situation. It just makes you more agitated by the second than you already were from the get-go. It also upsets the people you’re following. By no means am I encouraging people to drive recklessly by speeding, but if you’re stuck behind someone and it’s justifiable, pass them up. It’s better to upset them for a second than for minutes.

Those Darn Stoplights

A stop light is an arch enemy to the hurrying motorist. The red lights keep popping up when you approach them, and it seems you are spending more time stopped than you are driving. Here is my advice that has helped me over the years when in a hurry and every block has a stoplight that goes on forever.

For each moment you are stopped by traffic, start counting down the seconds. Once you start moving, stop counting. Restart the count at the next stop. It’s that simple. You might think you have been sitting at this stop light for two minutes, when it has only been 20 seconds. Without counting, your frustrated mind thinks the light is going on longer than it actually is, and counting will make you feel better for every stop.

Don’t count how long the red light is on, but how long you have to stay put. It helps reduce stress significantly.



There are plenty of reasons why there are hurrying motorists; most often it is because they are running late for something. The best reducer for road stress is to prevent having to hurry.


I know when I get up in the morning, the first thing I want to do after taking a shower is just relax, drink a cup of coffee, check emails, or look up some things online—don’t procrastinate! Get ready now. It is so easy to put things off until the last minute, and then you are scrambling to get things done when you need to be out of the house in 60 seconds. Don’t do that to yourself anymore. Take advantage of the time while you still have it.


Making a list is a great way to organize and get things done in the morning. I am one of those people who think I’m ready to walk out of the house, and then I realize I left something of importance upstairs, like my phone. The night before going to bed (while you are not in a hurry), write a list of things that you either need to get done before leaving or/and things to bring with you. As you are getting things done in the morning, start checking off the list so by the time you need to leave, there is no way for you to forget anything and delay leaving.


If you have time to write a list before going to bed, maybe you have time to prepare for leaving. Put out what you want to wear for tomorrow, make your lunch and put it in the fridge, put your keys, purse/wallet, and phone on the counter, clean out the coffee machine and add coffee so all you have to do is add water and turn it on. Get prepared so you have less to do in the morning.


Try to have everything done 15 minutes before you would normally have to leave. This means you must have your shoes on, have everything you need to take with you, and you can leave while having 15 minutes to spare. It’s your choice then to either leave 15 minutes earlier or relax and have a cup of coffee for the next 10 minutes. But definitely leave 5 minutes sooner than you normally leave; there is no sense waiting until the very last minute if you don’t have to.

By leaving the house earlier, you’re not going to be as anxious as you are traveling to work or school, therefor preventing anxiety is the best route of all three advices. The first two advices are for when you fail the third.


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