Why do we hate slowing down?

We’ve all been there. We’ve all tried switching lanes and of course, as a responsible motorist, we use our turn signals to notify the car behind – only to find out that the vehicle on the other lane sped up and isn’t allowing you to join his lane.

This is a common sight in my daily driving routine, to the point that I’ve already mastered a certain level of restraint and patience to handle these situations like a civilized person. I oftentimes just laugh it off, saying that the other driver might be in a hurry or in some kind of “toilet emergency.”

But thinking about it – why do we hate slowing down? I need to emphasize that I used the pronoun ‘we’ because I, too, had the tendency to find ways to not slow down, even while in a leisurely stroll.

I reckon, not wanting to slow down, or mag-menor in Filipino, is the main culprit of some minor accidents that we see on the road. It’s why a driver won’t let anyone join his lane. It’s why people find ways to cut off a long line. It’s why some drivers counterflow. It’s why some motorcycles split lanes and recklessly squeeze into the rightmost side of a two-lane thoroughfare. It’s why some cars hog the overtaking lanes of expressways.

And, most of the times, misunderstanding or miscommunication between these drivers and riders end adversely.

Why do we really hate slowing down? This question applies to pedestrians, too. I, for one, hate it when there’s a group of people walking side-by-side on a sidewalk. I also hate eating at restaurants with long lines, or when my order arrives a tad too late.

I believe this mentality boils down to the inconvenience that slowing down brings, no matter how petty it may sound. When you let another vehicle join your lane, you have to engage your brake pedals. It sounds worse for cars with manual gearboxes where they need to engage their clutches in order to shift to a lower gear. When a rider doesn’t lane-split, he or she has to idle while sitting on the motorcycle amid the heat. When you don’t cut a line, you have to muster all your patience and let the line naturally move forward.

One may even argue that time is a precious commodity, and that we’re wasting time being patient with all the hustle and bustle that this pathetic traffic situation brings. However, are we really saving time by hurrying up and being such pricks on the road? Actually, we don’t. 

I did a little experiment a while back, which involved Waze and my usual daily driving routine from Bulacan to Makati amid the dreaded rush hours. In the first part of my experiment, I drove patiently, letting other cars cut into my lane. I didn’t change lanes, too, just to get to the shortest crawling line on EDSA. I even let jaywalkers cross the road. My total travel time was two and a half hours.

The next day, I tried driving a bit more aggressively on the same route, imposing my right of way and not letting anyone cut off my momentum. My travel time? Still two and a half hours, and I was a bit on the edge the whole day.

My point is, hurrying up won’t make you travel faster nor will it magically erase the fact that you’ve left your house a bit later than usual. It will make you think so, but it’s not. It will only ruin your day and set an ugly course to your daily routine.

Our daily motoring lives aren’t a race. Well, if you think you’re in one, you might as well shell out some extra cash and rent a proper venue for your racing career that no one has heard of. Let’s all remember that we all just want to get to our destinations somehow. Our current driving situations are already a stressful one, oftentimes feeling like a chore. Let’s not aggravate that further by being inconsiderate pricks.

I know this one’s easier said than done but trust me, slowing down is a bliss. Take your time and don’t rush. If you’re in a long drive, enjoy the scenic view of the countryside. As cliché as it sounds, patience is really a virtue. It’s time we apply something we supposedly have learned as a child.

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