“I hate cars.” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Last week I wrote about driving, and I decided to write another, slightly different post, because I like to take both sides of the argument I decided to write another. Or it could be that I am lazy, I can’t be bothered to remember.

While I don’t enjoy the logistics of owning a car and driving every day, it’s mostly because I live and work on opposite sides of town. I actually enjoy the driving bit, for the most part (when people aren’t being idiots, that is.)

One of my favorite bits is what I call “Proactive” driving. No, this is not driving aggressively, though I understand your confusion. Aggressive driving is dangerous, and gets you traffic tickets. “Proactive” driving is actually more of a combination of defensive driving, a few good judgment calls, and a bit of luck.

If you’ve never actively noticed this phenomenon, the best description I can give is when you just do everything right. You are never openly speeding or breaking traffic laws, aren’t trying to take shortcuts, and yet you still somehow shave fifteen minutes off of your expected driving time.

Even that description is not exactly right, because you may have done it by accident. When I say proactive, I mean that you are recognizing the opportunity, wholly concentrated on finding the right moment to take action.

For me, though, this isn’t a stressful thing. When I drive this way it’s nearly effortless, and I end up feeling like a boss. It’s pretty fun, really, and after being stuck in traffic a while some proactive driving is almost as relieving as a runner’s high*. Also, if you’re reading this and you’re my mother, please ignore the last paragraph. As far as you know I drive like a grandma.

There are a few things that you have to be aware of, however. Proactive driving requires an alert mind, good reflexes, and the ability to tell when you’re going to put yourself or anyone else in danger. It also seems to be done best in a nondescript mid-size to small sedan. If you have a large or flashy car, not only are you more dangerous but also more prone to getting ticketed. What I’m saying is you have to recognize all the factors to keep “proactive” from accidentally becoming “aggressive.”

My last bit of advice is that proactive driving is not always possible, will not always help. It does if people are playing their favorite rush hour games, like “Slow down to look at the wreck,” or “Slow down because there’s a cop nearby.” Also it’s not much use if there’s simply a lot of traffic**.


*= Or as close as I can figure, since I don’t run.

**= And then everyone plays their other favorite game, which is “Slow down if Sam gets into your lane.”


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