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The vast majority of us have been there: sitting in heavy traffic, tempers flaring and aggressive drivers cutting in and out of lanes. 

Now you have a chance to do something about it!

We at Mitchell & Mitchell Insurance Agency are joining Safeco Insurance in asking drivers to participate in Drive It Forward Fridays (DIFF). To take part, drivers can visit www.safeco.com/diff or use the hashtag #DIFF on Twitter to pledge to be a more courteous driver and to share their positive driving actions.

We sure could use everyone’s help! A new Safeco Insurance survey found that more than four out of five drivers have experienced others’ aggressive driving behavior, and it impacts them negatively. Some of the driving behavior that those surveyed said they would like to see stopped included cutting off other drivers (59 percent), using high beams toward oncoming traffic (57 percent) and tailgating (56 percent).

In some cases, the survey found a complete lack of road manners in startling situations. More than one-third (37 percent) of those surveyed have watched other drivers cut a funeral line; more than half (54 percent) have seen able-bodied drivers take handicap spots; and 42 percent report seeing other drivers cut off a school bus.

“People’s emotions and anxieties often will play out on our roads and highways, putting us all in tense, high-stress driving conditions that can be dangerous,” said Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of the book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, who has written about road rage.

“A movement such as ‘Drive it Forward Fridays’ is not only good for society, but it's good for your mental health,” said Alpert. “Simple positive acts can have a huge impact on how you feel by activating the reward center in the brain, meaning it really can make you feel good.”  

Alpert offers the following tips to Drive it Forward and move beyond aggressive driving with positive driving interactions:

·         Know the characteristics of an aggressive driver: Cutting off drivers, tailgating, unnecessary or excessive horn use, rapid lane changes and speeding. If this is you, stop. If not, stand clear.

·         Encourage good behavior by being friendly and courteous on the road. Give up a parking spot.  Or when it is safe to do so, allow other drivers to move into your lane. Just be cautious as other drivers around you may not realize what you are doing. Being nice, but safe, reinforces similar behavior in others.

·         Normalize the undesirable. Traffic, slow drivers and fast ones are all to be expected and are a normal part of being on the road in the driving community. Accept it. Consider leaving five minutes early to get to your destination as you’ll be more tolerant when you’re not running late.

·         Don't personalize other peoples' behavior. Just because a driver cut you off doesn't mean they meant to or did it to enrage you. Consider other explanations such as the driver is en route to an emergency; there's a crisis a parent is trying to get to at home; or simply, the driver didn't see you.

If you’d like to learn more or share your examples of courteous driving, visit www.safeco.com/diff.

And please, join Mitchell & Mitchell in making a DIFF!

Posted 4:00 PM

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