The daily commute is a part of life for most of us – probably not one of our favorite parts, but a necessary part. Keeping yourself safe is just as necessary. Don’t let the daily routine lull you into thinking that your commute is risk-free. Every time you get on the road, you could get into an accident – so every time you get on the road, you should set yourself up to have the best commute possible. In honor of Drive Safely to Work Week, here’s our list to brighten up your commute and make it safe and trouble-free.
Three Ways to Have a Better Commute
1. Quiet Time
Most American’s lives are so stressful that it’s no wonder you feel rushed. Going to work, you’re worrying about the traffic and whether it will make you late. You might still be tired from not getting a full night’s sleep, or already agonizing over the work that awaits you today. Coming home, you’re worn out from a long day. Your mind is wandering – to family or household obligations, to your plans for the evening or the weekend, or even to more work that you have to get done.
It’s easy to feel exhausted by a hectic schedule, but that’s exactly why you need a break sometimes. Reframe the way you think about your commute. The traffic is what it is, something you can’t control and something no amount of worrying about will change. Go ahead and use the time you spend commuting to organize your thoughts.
Break large, overwhelming tasks into smaller pieces – whether it’s an assignment at work, a plan to accomplish your household projects, or a personal obligation you’re dealing with. Make mental lists, and don’t be afraid to talk to yourself – after all, there’s no one to judge you for it. Use the time to accomplish mundane tasks or work toward your dreams. Schedule your dinners for the week to make it easier to grocery shop later or plan your child’s birthday party. If you’ve always wanted to be a stand-up comedian or write a book, use the time to brainstorm your stand-up routine or develop your plot ideas.
Just make sure you don’t get too lost in your deep thoughts that you stop paying attention to the road. Remember, distracted driving doesn’t have to involve a cell phone to be dangerous.
2. Tune In
A quiet commute isn’t for everyone, or even for every day. Sometimes you want to do just the opposite – tune in to music. It’s not just your imagination that listening to your favorite songs makes you feel better. In fact, the many health benefits of music include easing the intensity of pain (to help you get rid of that headache), decreasing stress and anxiety, and elevating mood specifically while driving, USA Today reported. You might already listen to music in the car, but you probably don’t do it purposefully. Start by making playlists or mix CDs of music that will work well for driving – music that makes you happy instead of triggering anxiety, that helps you relax and ups your mood by getting your mind off of the stress at work or at home.
Just be sure you never have your music so loud that it will drown out important sounds around you, like the sirens of emergency vehicles or the honk of another driver’s horn. Also, choose to listen only to music that won’t distract you. Set up your music before you get on the road, whether that means hooking up a phone or other device, finding the right CD, or activating Bluetooth features. If you listen to the radio, be aware that even fiddling with the buttons in your car can be a distraction. Be careful flipping through radio stations, especially if your hands have to leave the steering wheel to do so.
3. Give Yourself An Five Extra Minutes – And Make the Most of Them
You may have come across signs that urge drivers to “take five – arrive alive,” but even if you follow the advice, you’re probably not thinking too much about what it means or why those five minutes matter. Make your five minutes count by:
Setting yourself up for your drive. Do you need directions? Get your GPS system or the directions app on your phone running and in position before you ever leave your driveway. Make your music selections (or lack thereof) now, so you don’t have to compromise your focus while you’re on the road. Need to make one last phone call or send a text message? Now’s the time. When you’re done, put the phone away. You don’t need it. Everyone knows texting and driving is dangerous, and besides, your commute is the one time of the day when you get to be “unplugged.” Consider it “me time” and enjoy the freedom. Emails and text messages from your family, your friends, and your coworkers can wait.
Leaving early enough that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll make the green light at the next traffic signal. This might sound like a little thing, but in reality, it’s huge. We once had a client, a child, who was paralyzed because the driver of another vehicle tried to “make the light” when she should have stopped and waited for the next green light. She turned without having the right of way and collided with the car our client was riding in, and now this child’s life will never be the same. This could be you. Every one of us can spare five minutes of time on our commute so that someone else doesn’t have their health taken from them.
A Commuting Culture
We are a nation of commuters. Around 128,300,000 employees travel to work in the United States, and upwards of 87 percent of us take a car, truck, or van, either driving alone or carpooling, Statistic Brain reported. More than two-thirds of us live within 15 miles of our workplaces, half of employees live within 10 miles, and 29 percent are just five or fewer miles from work. Despite the fact that we’re generally not going all that far, for something we do on a pretty routine basis, we’re not very good at it – and it’s time to change that.
Motor vehicle collisions don’t have to happen. If every single driver paid attention to the road and followed traffic laws at all times, the crash rate would be near zero. You can’t control the actions of other drivers, but you can do everything possible to minimize your risk of getting hurt, and maybe even make your commute a little less painful in the process.