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How To Become A Freeway Wimp

June 09, 1988

Wimps are the winners on the freeway, says psychiatrist Martin Brenner. They are more relaxed, happier, likely to live longer, and, when they get to their destinations, they can use all the energy they saved on the road to be assertive where it is more appropriate.

It only takes about 10 minutes to learn to be a freeway wimp, says Brenner, who officially calls his technique the Stress Care Driving Program. The trick, he says, is to practice it every time you get in the car.

Here is the condensed version:

'See your car as a refuge, a place to get away from the pressures and demands of life.

"Allow extra time whenever possible. But if you're late, you're late. People will understand.

"When you drive, don't do anything but drive. Listen to quiet music. Don't change the station every time a song comes on that you don't like, or a commercial. Don't use the car to think about work, problems, etc. Don't talk on the phone. Just drive. If you feel bored, that's OK, because boredom is often what you need to feel if you're truly relaxing. Don't look at your commute as wasted time.

"Avoid tailgating, changing lanes, going through yellow lights, speeding, jack-rabbit starts and stops, flashing your lights, honking your horn, cursing and giving other drivers dirty looks.

"If people take advantage of that space to get in front of you, let them. Every time somebody comes in, keep dropping back. Let other cars pass or cut you off; let the other guy win. The freeway is not the place to be assertive."

IS YOUR DRIVE TOO STRESSFUL?

Do you frequently "fight" the traffic driving to work or home?

Do you frequently drive through yellow or red lights?

Do you get impatient with other drivers for driving too slowly?

Do you drive to work, home, etc., in the shortest possible time?

Do you frequently read, dictate, talk on the phone, shave, apply makeup, do your hair, etc., while driving or parked at a light?

Do you drink or take drugs while driving?

Has anyone complained that you shouldn't be driving because of intoxication?

Do others tell you that you get overly upset, excited or annoyed while driving?

Do you curse, pound the wheel or make obscene gestures while driving?

Do you worry about being late?

If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you are a stressed-out driver who needs retraining, according to Anaheim psychiatrist Dr. Martin Brenner.

Copyright (c) Martin Brenner, MD

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