Mindfulness on the Road: Making Our Streets Safe for Drivers and Pedestrians

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Have you tried driving and then braking suddenly because a person is in your path, or the lights have turned red? Or you’re walking and texting, and you almost got hit by a car? Vehicular accidents have resulted in thousands of lives lost and millions of serious injuries sustained, many of which could have been prevented by practicing mindfulness on the road.

 

Sadly, we’re all guilty of letting our minds wander or driving when we’re not supposed to. Another common cause nowadays of car crashes is technology. We drive and text, call or play games on our smartphones when we should be paying attention to our surroundings. We only realize the dangers when we are on a literal collision course.

The government and transportation organizations are not wanting in their reminders and admonitions for people to practice road safety, but the number of fatalities and body injuries resulting from car accidents remain high. Victims and their families suffer financial and emotional damage that have grievous effects on their present and future lives. The problem is compounded if they are further victimized by unscrupulous parties and insurance companies.

Related reading: Mindfulness: Habits to Get Back on Track After Adversity

If you or anyone you know have been involved in such accidents, the first recourse should be to seek legal help. But as a driver or a pedestrian, it is also your responsibility to help keep the streets safe for everyone. There are laws against drinking and driving, and all except three states prohibit texting while driving.

Still, many car accidents are caused by inattention and lack of mindfulness of one’s surroundings. Here are tips for drivers and pedestrians.

How To Practice Mindfulness On The Road

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For drivers:

1. If you must have music, listen to it without headphones and on a subdued volume. Although the use of headphones is legal in most states, it’s still dangerous. It blocks out external issues and important noise, such as police and ambulance sirens. Choose your playlist before you start driving.

2. Stay within the speed limit. A lot of people are frustrated race car drivers, risking not only their own lives and limbs, but also that of others. Be conscious of how fast you’re driving and check your speedometer to stay within allowed limits.

3. Mind your attitude. It’s a primal impulse for drivers to assume competitiveness when on the road. But being mindful develops tolerance and patience. Although annoying, take the extra effort to ignore cars that cut you off, waver into your lane, or make a left turn without signaling.

 

Related reading: 10 Things to Do Before You Unleash Your Anger to the World

 

4. Mind how your body reacts to stress. Being caught up in bumper-to-bumper traffic or when someone cuts you off can trigger anger and tension. Consciously learn to relax your mental and physical state. Breathe deeply, unclench your fists and redirect your mind into thinking that the erring driver may have his own problems.

5. Intentionally become more alert to the traffic around you, such as the cars ahead of you, behind and beside you. Pay attention to the traffic signs and lights not only for safety purposes but also to avoid legal issues.

6. Use the car safety features installed in your automobile. They are becoming more advanced and are a big help in reminding you to be mindful.

 

For pedestrians:

 

1. Wear comfortable shoes, if possible. They keep your balance and maintain stability. if you must wear heels, learn the art before attempting them.

2. Assume a good walking posture. Stand straight, don’t bend forward or backward. Look ahead, not down, but be mindful of your environment all around. Keep your shoulders relaxed and slightly back.

3. Watch out for uneven surfaces, stair steps, broken pavements, uncovered manholes and cracks on the sidewalks to avoid tripping.

4. Don’t walk near or along a construction site. There is the danger of being hit by falling objects, toppling fences, construction vehicles and dangerous tools. You might be walking on unsteady grounds near trenches or excavations, causing you to fall in.

5. When you cross the street or turn a corner, be extra mindful that you don’t bump into other people or get bumped by a car. Stop first and look for hazards before changing direction.

 

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