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10 life lessons learned behind the wheel

FILE-- Jarrod Snider, the lead engineer of the driverless car project at Carnegie Mellon University, inside an automated car as it negotiates the terrain in Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 19, 2012. Researchers are contemplating how cities could change if our cars start driving for us, including narrower streets as parking spots could potentially become unnecessary. (Jeff Swensen/The New York Times)
FILE-- Jarrod Snider, the lead engineer of the driverless car project at Carnegie Mellon University, inside an automated car as it negotiates the terrain in Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 19, 2012. Researchers are contemplating how cities could change if our cars start driving for us, including narrower streets as parking spots could potentially become unnecessary. (Jeff Swensen/The New York Times)
Published Mar. 18, 2015

As a 15-year-old sitting in the driver's seat, ready to take on the world, ready for freedom, I thought about the things my dad taught me from the passenger seat: How to hold the wheel correctly, when to press the gas as I go through a sharp turn, when to start braking as I approach a red light. But he also taught me about life, about interaction and about discipline. All I really needed to know I learned through driving.

1 Be patient.

That guy that cut you off will probably never reappear in your life, so what is the point in getting upset? And also 20 years from now will it really matter if Tiffany is taking too long to set you up with Mark?

2 People have nicer things than you.

You own a 2000 Toyota Corolla, not a 2015 Mercedes SLK350. Just like you have an iPhone 4 not the 6 Plus. But, your car still runs and your phone still calls. You don't need the latest and greatest to get the job done.

3 Think of others.

It's not just you on the road or in life. You should try to be considerate and realize that your actions affect others. We're not all perfect humans. We will accidently cut people off or hurt someone's feelings. Just make an effort to not make it a habit.

4 Don't go too fast.

Life is not always a race. And "45" is not up to interpretation. You don't have to compete with every single person you encounter. Some just want to help, some are just trying to get to by.

5 Be a good communicator.

Those around you are on your team, and you have to work together. In everything you do, have done or will do, from the moment you played in the sandbox to the day you're old and gray, you always will need to work with others and be able to maintain healthy relationships. Communication is what fuels a connection and keeps the relationship machine running smoothly.

6 Dance in the car.

Roll your windows down. Blast the music. Have fun. Honestly, who cares if you're caught by the people next to you at a red light? They wish they were having as good a time as you.

7 The horn is an accessory, not a necessity.

Only use it for emergencies. For the sake of everyone around you, use it to speak obnoxiously loud when you have to in order to get your point across, but not all the time. Please, for Pete's sake, not all the time.

8 Don't break others' strides.

When you cut people off, they have to brake and it breaks their stride. Never be that person that brings others down rather than lifting them up. No one will want to be around you, and you will end up lonely and sad. Don't be lonely and sad.

9 Be aware.

Look around. Yes, stop and smell a rose, all that fun stuff, but also just look before changing lanes, check your speed, make sure you haven't passed your exit. Try not to get so caught up in your own world that you miss what is happening around you. You could miss something important.

10 Sometimes you have to look in your rearview mirror.

We drive looking forward, but we glance back in order to see where we've been. You don't want to lose sight of where you came from on your journey to where you're going.

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