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Can practicing mindfulness cure distracted driving?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Blog, Motor Vehicle Accidents |

In Connecticut and across the nation, traffic accident rates are increasing and distracted driving has become a significant contributor, leading to severe injuries and numerous fatalities. In 2021, over 42,000 drivers lost their lives in traffic accidents, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) says is the highest rate in 16 years.

Remaining present and mindful while driving is crucial to ensure that drivers keep themselves and others out of danger. Of all the accident types resulting in traffic fatalities, distracted driving is the only entirely preventable cause. Paying attention while driving can save lives.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving happens when a person operates a motor vehicle while using their phone, talking to passengers, eating, applying makeup or any other activity that takes their focus off the road. A traumatic car accident can happen very quickly, and distracted drivers do not have enough time to react if they wind up in dangerous situations.

Cell phones: A major cause

Cell phone use while driving is a leading cause of distracted driving. Talking, texting and engaging with social media while driving causes motor vehicle accidents because it diverts the driver’s attention from the road, other vehicles and potential hazards.

A study published by researchers in China found that while using hands-free, voice-activated phone apps, younger, less-experienced drivers drifted side to side in their driving lane and had slower response times, especially at traffic lights and were more likely to be involved in a collision. Another group of 93 studies concluded that drivers who engaged in any mode of conversation, whether using a cell phone or talking in person, had a reduction in their driving performance.

Mindfulness while driving

Mindfulness involves the driver paying attention to the present while operating their vehicle. When drivers practice mindfulness, they tend to remain calm and mindful of the road and surroundings without judgment. Driving in challenging weather or traffic conditions can trigger stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can help drivers reduce these emotions, making the drive a safer and more enjoyable experience.

Practicing mindfulness means staying in the moment instead of letting the mind wander while driving. Some studies have shown that when a driver’s mind wanders, they become more likely to make mistakes, overlook hazards and increase their risk of having a traffic collision.

Mindfulness exercises

While research is ongoing, some evidence suggests that mindfulness exercises may help reduce distracted driving. Studies found that practicing deep, slow breathing before driving and avoiding hand-held devices while driving can help drivers stay focused and mindful.

Distracted driving is dangerous. Drivers should ensure that they are alert, aware and can respond quickly to changing conditions and other drivers.