For many of us, as our roads have become increasingly crowded, and competition for the space on them ever more keenly contested, it’s easy to feel that driving is a chore which is difficult to avoid if we want to get where we need to be in a timely fashion.
The demand to pay constant attention to everything going on around us is regularly impressed on us – and there are ever more things which can be potential distractions.
In some circumstances, these can actually help us keep our concentration, especially when we have to complete the same journey day in, day out.
Routine is good – but not too much
When we drive along the same roads each day, it can act as a double-edged sword. On one hand, we become so familiar with the journey that we get to know every hazard which we might encounter.
But on the other hand, this could mean that we deliberately lower our concentration levels, simply because we think we know exactly what’s around every corner.
And there’s a big chance that this reduction in attention paid to what is around us will put us at greater risk of being involved in an accident.
So one important key to making every journey at least moderately interesting is to always keep our concentration levels up.
Driving is easier if you can enjoy it
So many people treat driving as a necessary evil, a chore which has to be got out of the way before we can start to do more interesting and fulfilling things.
And this can show in the way they drive. People who aren’t enjoying their driving are more likely to have their mood affected by others who they perceive as driving poorly.
Not only this, but they might also believe that someone else isn’t driving well when, in reality there is little wrong with their behaviour.
So by incorporating something you actually do enjoy doing into a journey, there’s a greater chance that you will stay in a good mood, and be fit to give your trip the full attention needed.
Tune in and stay happier
This was the original thinking behind fitting cars with radios, and them being offered as standard equipment by manufacturers, and their dealers such as Cooper MINI. The theory was that, if a driver could keep their mind occupied by something they enjoyed – music or speech – rather than be distracted, they would actually be stimulating their brain to stay tuned in to what was going on around them.
And provided what’s coming out of the radio or other media player in a car can be prevented from becoming a distraction in itself, it has been shown that listening to something as we drive can really help lower our anxiety levels, and so ensure that we maintain the level of concentration we need to stay safe.
The distances we are commuting are growing on average, so it can be valuable to have a way of minimising stress during these longer journeys.
So if many of us have to be resigned to spending longer behind the wheel, it seems sensible to find ways of making the time pass as safely and uneventfully as possible.
Don’t be a slave to the clock
Finally, one of the biggest causes of tension on a car commute is likely to come from the perceived need to get where we’re going as punctually as possible.
Sadly, that mindset is encouraged by many employers – perhaps unwittingly – by a culture which expects us to be at our desks during certain hours every day.
A more flexible approach can pay dividends in helping drivers stay out of a rut, and experience their usual commute at times when traffic conditions are less demanding.
So why not break out of your rut, and see whether your employer would be amenable to you starting or finishing work earlier or later? That could be one way of putting some enjoyment into what can easily be a boring drive.