Mindful driving….. Think about it. Being present. Paying attention on purpose. Sounds like what we should be doing anyway! I think fewer people than you think are actually present while behind the wheel. Here are some of my thoughts on what I observe and what I think about while on the road.
- People drive TOO FAST! – Slow down buddy! Why is everyone in such a hurry? Do you know how often someone passes me with some crazy speed or some dangerous maneuver and then I’m right behind them at the next traffic light? Literally all the time. I’m not some grandma driver either. Sometimes I go 5-10 miles per hour over the speed limit (if conditions permit) and everyday I have someone beep at me, pass me, or drive so close to my bumper I can see them mouthing swears and smacking their steering wheel. We have speed limits for a reason. I want to be safe. I want YOU to be safe. If you follow me that close, I will pull to the side to let you pass. But when you are speeding around neighborhoods or highways remember that there could be something you need to stop for. Something hazardous in the road, an adult or child riding a bike, an animal or another car. If you get caught speeding, you will pay a fine. If you kill an animal or a person, you could destroy a family and even your own life. Is it worth all of that to get somewhere 5 or 10 minutes faster? There is no excuse for speeding. Wake up earlier, leave your house earlier, or do you errands the day before. DRIVE FAST = REACT SLOW DRIVE SLOWER = REACT QUICKER
- Why are you passing on the right? – There isn’t a good reason for doing this and yet I see this happening every time I am on the highway. I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck that said “LEFT-Passing side ~ Right-SUICIDE”. If you are passing someone on the right and they decide to move to the right lane and they hit you, it is YOUR FAULT. Big trucks most likely cannot see you! So if you pass them on the right you are putting yourself, anyone in your car, the truck driver and all the people driving behind you at risk. Pass on the left or don’t pass at all. If you are in the left lane and a car wants to pass, MOVE OVER!
- Put away all devices – The cell phone can wait. If you think it could be urgent, pull over (In a safe area) to answer the call or text. It will only take a few minutes to pull over preferably in a parking lot and not on the side of the road where you could be a hazard. Most accidents involving cell phones happen while simply reading a text or while texting only a word or two. Watch THIS VIDEO by AT&T with real stories of tragedy by people who chose to use their cell phone when driving. Don’t wait until a tragedy happens. Put the cell phone away now.
- Stop signs have a purpose – They are put in place so we don’t crash into each other at intersections. They are a good place to take a deep breath as well. Don’t just stop and then go. Look in every direction and be mindful that not all people will stop. Not all people will let you go even though you stopped first. If you are at a stop sign and I haven’t stopped yet, please let me fully stop before you start flagging me to hurry up and go first. Stop at the stop sign and take a deep breath and let it out. If the other guy is in a hurry, let him go first. If it takes me 20 more seconds to arrive at my destination, I will be ok.
- I am terrified to let my kids drive – Both of my kids are teenagers and recently got their permits. They are knowledgeable on traffic laws and I trust that they will make good decisions while driving. They see me drive and see the people around me speeding and making poor decisions. I am terrified for my kids to be on the road with these other drivers. I am drilling it into my kids heads that the most important thing besides following the rules of the road is to pay attention to other drivers. If you are someone who drives fast and or carelessly, would you want YOUR teens to be on the road with someone who drives like you? Probably not.
- Sometimes I AM terrified to drive – I am not at all saying I am a perfect driver. No one is perfect. However, I do my best to pay attention while driving. With all the attention and focus, you SEE more. With all the craziness I see on the roads, sometimes I just want to stay home.
- Pay EXTRA attention in parking lots – Why are people driving so fast in parking lots? The place where people are walking, and often with children. Parents are taking strollers and babies out of cars. Some are trying to back out of parking spaces. If there is no speed limit posted, you should never go more than 15 mph. You need to have a reaction time. If your child ran out in front of a car in a parking lot, wouldn’t you want the driver to be able to react?
- Mindful Driving – It’s actually an eye opening experience. Slow down. People who drive too fast can’t react as quick. Look all around you. Look at everything. Fully stop at every stop sign or light. Pay attention to everyone else on the road. Put your cell phone away and turn off the ringer. Do you see someone on their phone? Avoid them. Is someone riding to close behind you? Let them pass. Give enough room between you and the car in front of you. Pay attention for crosswalks or people who are just crossing the road anyway. If you like to drive the speed limit or slower, stay in the right lane. If the light turns green and the guy in front of you isn’t going yet, wait before you decide to lay on the horn. Maybe he’s distracted by his phone, maybe he’s distracted by his thoughts. Be mindful of people trying to pull into traffic from parking lots. Let people in if it is safe to do so. Once YOU slow down, you see how fast everyone else is.
- Life is Short – Lets enjoy every moment we can. If you are mindfully driving, you are making the road a safer place. For me, for you and for your loved ones. If you are moving too quick through life, you miss it. It goes by quick enough on it’s own!