Well, it’s officially 2015. With another year under our belts, and perhaps another notch in our belts following the calorie-intensive holidays, it’s time to draft our new year’s resolutions (this year, we’re keeping them). Many of us will pen wellness-related intentions like “exercise at least 3 times a week” or work-related goals like “get promoted.” However, we can’t forget to include some driving-related resolutions too. Why?
Our daily commute’s often a protracted affair, and sadly, we’ve come to accept this. According to Harvard Medical School, each American typically drives for 101 minutes per day. To put that in perspective, we exercise for only 18 minutes each day. Considering that we’re driving 5 times more than we’re exercising, it’s only fair to include a couple of driving resolutions too.
Here are 4 great driving resolutions we can all adopt in the New Year.
1. Relax and reduce road rage
Maybe you’ve resolved to do this before, but the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association reports that only 8 percent of people succeed in keeping their resolutions. So let’s revisit this important goal.
Right now, road rage is rampant in the U.S. Just drive around any city for an hour and you’re bound to get flipped off, cursed at, honked at, etc. We drivers aren’t very tolerant of or patient with each other, but we can change! Watch out for these common causes of road rage:
I was driving with my friend recently and she became, let’s say, “vocal” at someone for proceeding out of turn at a stop sign. She then did the exact same thing 5 minutes later. Of course, I had to point it out. She responded, “Yeah, but whatever … it’s okay when I do it.”
Once in a while, we all forget we’re not the center of the world while driving, and for some (likely deeply psychological) reason, we feel our mistakes are warranted while those of other drivers are unjustifiable. This can result in road rage.
Another frequent cause of road rage is the giant button attached to our steering wheel: the horn.
Let’s say some guy’s stopped in front of you even though the light’s been green for 10 seconds. You assume the worst (that he’s an idiot) and feel he deserves to be publicly shamed, so you lie on that horn. Then, 5 seconds later, an elderly man finishes crossing the street (albeit slightly more deaf) in front of said “idiot.” Now who’s the fool? Hint: it’s you.
You never know the real reason someone’s stopped. Maybe their child’s having a medical problem in the backseat, maybe their coffee spilled and it’s burning them, or maybe their car’s stalled. You can’t know, and therefore should think before you honk. It helps to give people the benefit of the doubt.
You’re late for an important meeting, school field trip, or doctor’s appointment — it makes no difference. Point is, you’re late and you’re driving recklessly to arrive ASAP. Unfortunately, the speed of the car ahead of you is a bit too slow for your liking. Boom! You’re overcome with rage. Your blood boils as you begin flashing your lights like the paparazzi and throwing your hands up like a high school cheerleader midroutine. Now, your disillusioned subconscious is blaming this person for your tardiness.
It’s important to remember, though, that it’s most likely your fault you’re late. And even if it’s not, it’s probably not the fault of the car in front of you.
When you’re running late, try to stay cool — the world likely isn’t going to end. If you need help, simply turn on some mellow tunes and relax.
2. Click it or face the consequences
The statistics alone relating seat belt use (or lack thereof) and motor vehicle deaths make an extremely compelling case to buckle up. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, 21,667 people were killed in traffic crashes. More than 60 percent of those people could have been saved had they been wearing their seat belts.
Buckling your seat belt is the safest (and possibly the easiest) thing you’ll ever do while traveling in your car — so just do it.
3. Avoid distracted driving
No matter who you are or where you’re headed, life on the move can be hectic. Distracted driving’s dangerous, though. In 2012 alone, 421,000 people were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. That’s almost half a million injuries that could have been avoided if drivers had simply been paying attention to the road.
Don’t text and drive
“I’ll just reply quickly,” may not seem like a dangerous thought, but using your phone for only 5 seconds at highway speeds is like driving blindfolded across an entire football field. Texting can wait. We recommend keeping your phone in the glove box (or turned off) to avoid the temptation.
Plan your route before you leave
If directions aren’t your thing, plan your trip ahead of time using a voice-command navigation system. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting lost while driving. If your navigation system’s on your phone, make sure that’s the only thing you’re using it for (and pull over before making any adjustments).
Save the food for later!
We know that burrito’s delicious, but it’s distracting! Save it for later, or if you’re worried about scarfing it down warm, eat at the restaurant.
Groom at home
We all want to look our best, but applying makeup and shaving are activities for your bathroom, not the driver’s seat. Give yourself extra time to get ready before getting in the car.
4. Don’t even think about driving drunk
We really can’t stress this one enough. Drunk driving is a widespread problem in the U.S., and it’s more common and deadly than we’d all like to think.
Here are some statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving:
- Someone is injured due to a drunk driving accident every 2 minutes
- Approximately 2 out of 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lives
- In 2012, 29.1 million people reported that they’d driven under the influence of alcohol
- In 2013, drunk driving accidents killed 10,076 people (that’s 1 every 52 minutes) and injured 290,000
Driving can be dangerous when a driver’s not under the influence. An inebriated driver only makes matters worse.
There you have it — resolutions we can all benefit from. Drive safely, relax, and enjoy the New Year!