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Sharing the Road: How to be a More Mindful Driver

28th July 2020 Print

According to the government’s road accidents and safety statistics, British roads are safer than they’ve ever been. To what should we attribute this welcome trend? In part, this is down to the design of the cars themselves. Crumple zones, airbags and automated lane detection have all reduced the likelihood of a collision, and the severity of those that do occur. But it isn’t just our cars that have changed: we, as drivers, are changing our habits.

Driving is something that we tend to pick up once. Once we’ve gotten comfortable behind the wheel, our habits tend to stay with us as second nature. We don’t tend to consciously think about indicating or changing gears: muscle memory takes care of it for us. 

Improving as a driver means paying attention to the things you’re doing. Do this, and you’re practicing a form of mindfulness. In this way, you can become more considerate, safer and better driver. And as a consequence you’ll be more likely to be approved by lenders if you are looking into buying a new vehicle.

Let's look at a few of the ways in which you might do this. 

Slow Down

The speed at which we drive has an obvious effect on the likelihood and severity of collisions. Many of us unconsciously find ourselves creeping over the speed limit, particularly when we're driving on familiar roads. Make a conscious effort to take a look at the speedometer, and you might be surprised at just how fast you are going. 

Consider Other Road Users.

Certain vehicles are notorious for being easily missed. These might include cyclists and motorcyclists who might, without warning, come up around the outside of your car as you're making a turn. This risk is especially prevalent in built up city centres. 

Dull your Competitive Instincts

Most of us like the sensation of victory, even when the circumstances don’t make much sense. On the road, this psychology can be counterproductive. When another road user overtake, you might be tempted to keep pace with them, and, in so doing, make driving decisions that you otherwise wouldn't. By paying attention to this instinct when it arises, you can more effectively suppress it. 

Turn off the Radio

Finally, you might want to turn off the radio in your car and spend a few trips, however short, driving in silence. This will liberate you from potential distractions, and allow you to concentrate on the decisions you're making on the road, and the thoughts and impulses that drive them. Practice paying attention to the contents of your own mind. Even if you’re doing it when you’re not driving, the practice allow you to more effectively master your behaviour behind the wheel.