Surviving Oahu's Gridlock

Leon James
Leon James
Road Rage
Road Rage

By Keahi Tucker - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even after the rail project is built, Honolulu's road congestion will be worse than it is now.

Not as bad as it would have been without rail, but still worse.

The bottom line is Oahu traffic congestion will not be changing anytime soon.

If driving leaves you anxious, all you can really do is change yourself.

Do you ever notice when Danno and McGarrett drive around town, they never get stuck in traffic.

Maybe they should call it "Fantasy Island."

In real life, Oahu's congestion is among the worst in the nation. The kind that turns perfectly nice people into animals.

Which is why I recently found myself acting like an animal.

"Whoo hoo hoo... that's good. I feel so ridiculous."

Riding shotgun, that's UH professor Leon James, known on the web as "Doctor Driving," the world's premiere expert on road rage.

He says making funny noises can help irritable drivers change their mood.

"After about five or six seconds you no longer remember what happened," James said.

If that doesn't work, try the Costanza method... Instead of flipping the bird, force yourself to flip a shaka.

James' tips are endless, outlined in his book "How to Steer Clear of Highway Warfare."

"I used to be what I write in my book... A rushing maniac. I was always rushing for no reason," James said.

Not anymore.

After studying driving behavior for the past 30 years, James says the stakes are too high.

Forty-thousand Americans are killed every year in crashes. Six-and-a-half million are hospitalized.

In his own survey, James says 85 percent of Oahu drivers admitted feeling road rage almost every time they drove.

"And you have to pay a high price for it because it keeps you stressed," James said.

We found plenty of people complaining about other drivers.

"The old people... They no look!"

"They cut in front of you or they make sudden stops."

Funny thing is no one thinks they're part of the problem.

Unfortunately, the Internet is full of run-ins gone wrong.

One guy goes ballistic on a truck driver. Another aggressor talks tough, but ends up getting knocked out. Another driver tries to run over a man and ends up wrecking his Jeep.

And it's not just men.

Hope she didn't need that crutch.

Back on the road, Dr. James says the key to avoiding anger is not to dwell on other people's driving.

Everybody makes mistakes. Don't replay them in your mind.

"That's called ruminating. That's the first thing you need to give up. Forgive and forget," James said.

And we can all improve traffic by simply driving better.

Don't speed. James' studies show it only cuts the average commute by 10 percent.

On the freeway, keep steady with the traffic flow. And try not to change lanes. One impatient move sends ripples of red brake lights.

"There are these waves on the H-1 for instance that go back 20 miles. So if you slow down or switch lanes unnecessarily, you're slowing down traffic for everybody. Now other people are doing it ahead of you, so they're slowing down traffic for you," James said.

Finally, there's another ripple effect.

"Oh look at this what's going on here. That was an illegal switch. I got little wave. That was very nice and people should realize waving is really important," James said.

A simple wave to that guy ups the odds he'll wave to someone else, and so on.

Important, James says because that connection makes people happy, keeps the tension down, which keeps traffic moving.

"Sometimes I don't feel like it but my wife who's a passenger says wave Leon wave, but I say I don't want to its too late, but she says its not too late, so I wave and I feel better," James said.

Take it from doctor driving... A bit of aloha goes a long way in this maze of modern life.

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