Are you looking for a way to take some of the stress out of your morning commute? Small changes could make a big difference.
1. Lay off the horn
Try laying off the horn, unless it’s an emergency. Studies show honking your horn is like pushing an elevator button repeatedly, it won’t help you get to your destination any faster and will raise your stress level and the levels of drivers around you.
2. Drive slower
Yes, slower. Or at least the speed limit. An experiment in Colorado showed when drivers were paced at 55 mph, they found everyone moved faster than when drivers were left to go 65 mph or even 70 mph. The experiment concluded it was because when you're speeding and have to merge into a lane of slower-moving traffic, you must apply the brakes, meaning the driver behind you also has to, creating a chain reaction of braking. If you are all going the speed limit, then there will be less braking and drivers can maintain their speed.
3. Don't change lanes
It might seem like you're making headway, but an experiment in Los Angeles found a car that stays on the same course in the same lane will arrive at their destination sooner than a car that changes lanes as much as possible to try and get ahead.
4. Get a laugh in
Studies have shown that if you're able to turn on a comedic audiobook during your drive and have a laugh, that commute will be a lot less stressful.
5. Don't acknowledge the maniac
Keeping the peace on your commute will keep your stress levels low, so focus your eyes anywhere but toward the driver that just cut you off. Forgive and forget, right?
6. Grab a friend
A study at Vanderbilt shows a commute with a buddy will take a load off and make you less likely to crash. Two heads are better than one.
7. Put the cellphone away
This should be a given, but in case you need some hard evidence, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that 80 percent of crashes involve drivers who were not paying attention for three seconds or less, which is just about the time it takes to send that "quick" text message or find that contact in your address book "real fast." Not to mention other research has found that driving with a cellphone is equivalent to driving intoxicated.
8. Stay on the highway
Back roads may seem less stressful, but there are fewer points of contention on a highway (for instance, you never have to "make that light" on the interstate or worry about the guy pulling out of that store parking lot too fast). As far as numbers go, 57 percent of fatal accidents occur on rural roadways, according to director of public information for AAA New York, and while the highways are more crowded, they are easier to navigate, making for a less stressful ride.
9. Create the right aroma
Getting the right smell to fill your nostrils during your morning commute can be the ultimate stress soother. Grab Vick's VapoRub to ease empathy for the crazy drivers on your drive or jasmine to improve reaction time (Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation). But don't spray these scents directly on your car, it can damage the interior. Instead, the director of fragrances at Sephora says grab a piece of felt to keep in your car and spray that.