If you spend 45 minutes or more behind the wheel each way to and from your job every day, the chances are good that your daily drive is a source of annoyance and frustration. Many people view that time stuck driving to and from work as lost time.
While driving for so long may feel dull, you are putting yourself in danger during your commute, as motor vehicle collisions remain a leading cause of death in Illinois. There are certain things you can do that will help you stay safer during a long commute before or after your workday.
Understand the difference between diversion and distraction
Listening to a book on tape, catching up on your favorite podcast or enjoying a playlist of music that makes the commute seem to go by faster can make your daily drive more tolerable. However, you need to be careful in your efforts to reduce annoyance with your drive time so that you don’t succumb to dangerous distractions.
Choosing to multitask at the wheel, possibly by sending an email, grooming yourself or eating your breakfast, can significantly increase your risk of a crash. The only ways you should entertain yourself should be through things that don’t fully take your mind off the wheel and don’t require you to look away from the road.
Leave early instead of cutting it close every day
When you already have to spend an hour at the wheel to get to and from your job, the idea of getting there 15 minutes before you have to clock in might sound like an obnoxious infringement on your already limited personal time. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict which days traffic conditions will impact how long it takes you to get to work.
Accidents, changes in weather and construction can all result in taking longer during your commute and feeling the need to speed because you are behind schedule. Planning to leave early for your commute so that you arrive to work a few minutes early every day means that you will be safer when you drive because you won’t feel the need to speed or try to email your boss to tell them you’re running late.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you
Feeling frustrated by a long commute is a common response, but you shouldn’t let your emotions run the situation. If you let yourself get too negative emotionally, the results could well be exploding in anger at someone else on the road. Your gesticulations and screamed epithets could be enough to incite a road-rage incident that endangers you, as you can’t possibly predict how someone will respond in that situation.
Keeping your focus on driving safely, leaving early so that you have time if something unexpected happens, and trying to keep yourself calm and emotionally neutral while driving will all reduce your risk during your daily commute.