Much has been written about distracted driving. We touched on it last summer with Does Your Company Take Distracted Driving Seriously? Laws and regulations such as FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) Distracted Driving Regulations have been implemented as an attempt to reduce the incidence of distracted driving by regulating some of the causes. And yet according to Distraction.gov the problem hasn’t significantly improved. “The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver; this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.” Rather than primarily concentrating on eliminating driving distractions maybe it’s time to train mindful driving. Start by being mindful of this–3,000 people were killed, and 400,000 injured by unmindful drivers in 2012.
Mindful Drivers Are:
• Rested – Would you drive after consuming several adult beverages? Why not? Inebriated driving is an obvious distraction. Alcohol alters thinking and slows the brain. So does the lack of rest. You shouldn’t drive in either altered state.
• Prepared – Remember drivers ed? What were the first things your instructor taught you to do when you got behind the wheel? Check mirrors, set the seat, fasten the seat belt—be prepared before you start the engine.
• Clear-minded – Leaving emotional issues, projects, and problems at the door will clear your mind for the task at hand.
• Vigilant – Mindful drivers are aware of their surroundings, they drive ahead, and they never have to tell a law enforcement officer, “I didn’t see him.”
• Calm – Driving America’s highways isn’t a competition—it’s not NASCAR. It should never be a source of anger. In its single mindedness road rage may the worst driving distraction of all. Last week a teenager was clocked at 135 MPH on the Indianapolis outer loop because he was mad at another driver. Thank goodness he was stopped by law enforcement.
• Cautious – Driving cautiously isn’t only being aware of traffic and road conditions but adjusting driving accordingly, which may mean slowing down. Not dangerously slow such as 35 in a 55 MPH, but at a speed fitting the conditions. Last week I drove from southern Indiana to Indianapolis in an ice storm. Ice and sleet covered the highway most of the trip. In my younger days (last year), I would’ve pushed the car and my abilities to the limit endangering myself, my lovely bride, and other drivers. I averaged less than 40 MPH. We arrived safe and sound.
• Undistracted – Yep, mindful drivers don’t text and drive; they aren’t on the phone, and they don’t check their Facebook updates until they’re parked.
If you want to be a mindful driver, and not a statistic, it’s simple—keep your mind on driving. Driving isn’t an activity that should be shared with part of your consciousness; it takes your entire mind and all of your concentration to avoid disaster. The next time you’re behind the wheel be mindful of mindful driving.