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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Rushing not to be in a hurry

‘Never drive in a hurry’ is a family mantra. One I’ve never paid much mind. It’s sound advice, but feels a tad unrealistic given my two modes are stopped, or hurrying.

Another family classic is: ‘Everything in moderation’. I should just give up already.

Recent reading, however, has me pondering the former … I’m currently halfway through a Jane Austen classic: Sense and Sensibility.

As with all of Austen’s books, it’s rare to see the genteel class hurry anywhere.

Life, for them at least, moved in leisurely fashion, and was comparatively glacial by today’s standards.

I’ve just travelled with the Dashwood sisters in a horse-drawn carriage from Devonshire to London. A three-day journey. Surely, they weren’t going at pace.

But what if they were? Supposed it was the once-in-a-blue-moon event when they were, in fact, in a hurry.

Well, research shows they would have increased their chances of a crash significantly.

Which leads me to my other bit of reading: Why do people tailgate? One theory may be too close for comfort. The snappy headline is backed up by an article which gave me pause from Monash University’s Amanda Stephens, a senior research fellow at the Accident Research Centre.

Stephens says holiday driving comes with increased risks, as road deaths tend to spike during this period.

“But whether you drive differently from normal comes down to the value you place on your time, rather than when you drive.”

Simply put, she says, if you are in a rush, your time becomes more precious, because you have less of it.

“If something, or someone infringes on that time, you may become frustrated and aggressive.”

Holidays mean more cars on the road, which means longer travel times, resulting in more people in a rush getting frustrated, ergo, more crashes.

Stephens says we react with anger when we perceive we have been wronged. On the road, that could constitute someone dawdling in the right-hand lane.

I am certainly no saint, and when in a rush, have to work to control my frustration at anyone who dares drive within 10km of me.

However, Stephens says when driving we have less time to evaluate, so fall back on snap decision-making and potentially ill-judged actions.

Frustrated drivers tend to express themselves aggressively on the road through tailgating and speeding.

In this state, she says, we underestimate the risk of our behaviours while overestimating how much control we have over the situation.

What I found really interesting is the study she cites showing these behaviours are more dangerous than using a mobile while driving.

“Drivers who are tailgating or speeding have a 13 – to 14-fold increase in odds of being in a crash, compared to when they are driving more safely.”

Stephens outlines tips the Accident Research Centre found helped aggressive drivers. The obvious one for me is: Before driving, allow enough time for the trip.

If that fails, I like her suggested 5x5x5. Will the cause of your frustration matter in five minutes, five hours or five days? No? Then the only hurry you should be in, is to let the frustration go.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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