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Five Ways to Avoid Being a Target of Road Rage: Part 2 of 2

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author photo by Autotrader June 2008

Car horns were invented by Miller Reese Hutchinson and were first attached to automobiles in 1908. Drivers have been honking them angrily ever since.

Although initially designed as a safety device, the car horn is now widely used for more creative expressions. There's the quick "please-go-faster" honk, or the longer "I-can't-believe-you-just-did-that" variation. And who could forget the "I'm-going-to-lay-on-my-horn-for-the-next-ten-minutes-I'm-so-angry" honk?

How can you avoid having those cacophonic gems directed at you? Easy. Just practice a few simple things that can help keep you and the drivers around you horn-free and happy:

1. Avoid the last-second cut-over.

This might be the most dreaded move in the history of driving. It's when you wait until the very last second to take a turn because there's a long line. While everyone else waits patiently, you pretend you don't see the backup and cut over in front of all the other cars. You can avoid many cases of road rage by refusing to pull this trick on fellow motorists.

2. Remember, your car is not your office.

Nothing instills fear and frustration in other drivers like treating your vehicle as a mobile office. Careless cell phone calls, manic typing into your PDA, reading paperwork — these are things that shouldn't be performed at 60 miles per hour. When you're driving, focus on driving and bypass this angry motorist scenario.

3. Don't let the whole world pull in front of you.

There are certainly times when you need to drive with a raised degree of generosity, allowing people to get in front of you, doing the "thank you" wave, and so on. But one thing that is bound to enrage the drivers behind you is letting too many vehicles cut in front of you. This can quickly make a bad backup worse, despite good intentions. So let people in, but use your discretion. Waving a dozen double tractor-trailers in front of you isn't the best way to respect the people behind you.

4. Don't fight for feet.

Sometimes when you're in a hurry, it's easy to lose sight of road realities. For instance, if there's a light up ahead of you, you probably don't need to cut someone off to go wait at it. What you might gain if you do is a few feet of advantage, while losing the patience of the driver behind you. You'll both have to sit at the same light, and whether you're first in line or second won't dramatically impact your day.

5. Green means go.

Speaking of lights, it's admittedly a little silly how many people have developed a hair trigger for green lights. If you sit still for more than three seconds, you're likely to set off a few horns. To skip this symphony of sounds, simply pay attention when you find yourself first in line at a red light. You don't have to speed off the second the green light appears, but if you're not distractedly updating your digital address book, you'll be ready to move on in harmony — and peace.

These are just a few suggestions for improving your driving experience. The reality is that some people are going to honk because, well, they like to. Or because they had a bad day. Or for a host of other reasons. You can't do anything about that, but by following these simple ideas, you'll be able to take control of some little things that can make a big difference.

For easy ways to save yourself from driving angry, please read, "Five Ways to Put Road Rage in the Rearview Mirror."


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Five Ways to Avoid Being a Target of Road Rage: Part 2 of 2 - Autotrader