Mindfulness Driving: 7 Tips to Be a Thoughtful Driver

Inside of car driving down the road.

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Driving can be an exhilarating experience, but oftentimes that exhilaration comes at the expense of your car, other drivers and your own well-being. The world would be a better place if more people practiced mindfulness driving. Here are seven simple tips to be a more thoughtful driver and make the roads safer for everyone.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has a different meaning for everyone in the context of driving, but it has a few basic fundamentals:

  • Being present in the moment
  • Cutting out distractions
  • Controlling your emotions
  • Driving with care and courtesy

Now that we have some ground rules established, let’s get into the most straightforward mindfulness driving tips you can start today.

1. Put Away the Phone

Cell phones are our greatest obstructions when behind the wheel, so the first mindfulness step is to cut your phone from the picture. Put it in the glove compartment or center console and don’t take it out until you reach your destination. The itch to check your phone will be powerful at first, but slowly you’ll get used to it. 

If you drive without a phone for long enough, you will come to appreciate the brief segments of quiet time. Taking a break from electronics is good for your eyes and your mental health. Of course, it’s also much safer and helps prevent accidents caused by distracted driving.

2. Remove Your Car’s Clutter

Showing respect for your vehicle is a fundamental part of mindfulness driving. You don’t have to be an automobile expert, but you should at least remove your car’s clutter and keep it clean. Take out all the trash and vacuum the interior regularly. You will feel more comfortable and confident driving a clean vehicle.

Any passengers you have will also be impressed with your car’s organization. It shows that you value your belongings and like to keep a tidy shop. Most importantly though, organization has proven to improve your mental health, decluttering your mind as well as your environment.

3. Try Driving in Silence

Almost everyone listens to music, podcasts, audiobooks or some combination of the three when behind the wheel. They might be entertaining and help you through long drives, but they’re also distracting. Try driving in silence for a change. Your thoughts will roam to unexpected places, and you might learn something new about yourself.

Silence also allows you to become more in-tune with your surroundings. You will be able to hear more details – the rumbling of your car, the pavement beneath the tires, the various sounds of different vehicles, etc. You will also spend less time looking at your phone and more time observing the road.

The modern world is noisy, and we have few opportunities to exist in peace and quiet. Learn to appreciate the silence of driving alone, because those moments will become rarer and rarer as you assume more life responsibilities.

4. Practice Meditation

Silence also enables you to take control of your emotions and practice effective meditation techniques. Breathing exercises are the most appropriate for driving, allowing you to stay calm and maintain concentration on the road. You could also download a mindfulness app and give guided meditation a try.

Road rage prevents many of us from mastering the art of mindfulness driving. We get irritated by the smallest inconveniences, even if nobody on the road caused them. Instead of resorting to an angry outburst, you can calm yourself with meditation and re-stabilize your emotions. A clear head leads to better driving decisions and safer roads for everyone.

5. Control Your Acceleration and Deceleration

One of the worst driving habits getting in the way of your mindfulness is a lack of pedal control. Punching the gas and slamming the brakes burns more fuel, makes traffic patterns more unpredictable and makes driving more stressful on yourself. Work on controlling your acceleration and deceleration. A steady pace is always better than a fluctuating speed.

Plus, you will save yourself from many road rage incidents. Driving at a consistent speed helps you avoid drifting and prevents anyone from cutting you off.

6. Anticipate Obstacles

Anticipation is another defining trait of mindfulness driving. Only the most thoughtful drivers can predict the actions of other vehicles and understand the nuances of traffic patterns. 

Some of the previous tips will help you develop the skill of anticipation. Silence will keep you focused, controlling your speed will help prevent traffic jams and fewer electronic distractions will help you notice more subtle details of your surroundings.

7. Keep Your Thoughts on the Road

It will be difficult to control your train of thought when you first change your driving habits. Try to keep your thoughts on the road and prevent your mind from wandering. Look ahead and think about the road conditions, the cars around you, upcoming traffic and other obstacles. Pay attention to every sight and sound.

You’ll be surprised how quickly time passes when you’re focused on your surroundings. You’ll be too busy with other thoughts to worry about how long you’ve been driving. However, you shouldn’t neglect to listen to your body. If you’re getting uncomfortable or need to use the bathroom, don’t hesitate to address those issues.

Change Your Driving Habits For Good

Mindfulness driving is a conglomeration of healthy habits that benefit yourself, your vehicle and the drivers around you. Try these seven tips to start your mindfulness journey and change your driving habits for good!

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