Driving is a big part of daily life for many young professionals. Whether you work on the road, or commute to and from the office each day, many of us spend an incredible amount of time in the car. Yet for many young professionals, driving has become a mindless part of our daily routine; something we pay very little attention to. How many times have you driven from one point to another with very little memory of the journey? It’s a scary thought when you stop to consider just how serious an endeavor driving actually is (think of the months leading up to your 16th birthday). We know you know the importance of shoulder checking, using your turn signals, and safely merging, so instead, we have created a more YP-specific list of helpful driving reminders.
Go hands-free. Always.
Using a handheld device such as a mobile phone while driving is illegal in almost every province in Canada. The distraction caused by using a phone while driving kills hundreds of people every year and is right up there in severity with drinking and driving. While first and foremost we suggest putting your phone in the trunk to avoid any temptation to answer that text while driving, we also recognize the reality of the need for many YPs to work on the go. With all the of the hands-free technologies now on the market there is zero need to ever have a phone in your hand while driving. And don’t think that waiting for a red light to check that email is ok. It’s not, and you will be ticketed.
Avoid road rage
We know you are important. We know you have to be places. But speeding, honking, making risky moves and, worst of all, trying to “teach” other drivers a “lesson,” will never get you anywhere faster (perhaps except the auto body shop, the insurance office, the hospital, or jail). Road rage can be very easily avoided by simply giving yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go, allowing for any traffic, car troubles, or getting lost, that you may face. Arriving 15 minutes early certainly never hurt anybody, and so if that is your only consequence for leaving earlier than thought necessary, then it can be an easy fix for your driving stressors. In those unavoidable circumstances that result in your inevitable tardiness, do yourself and your boss/colleague/client a favour and make that quick call to let them know what’s up. It’s amazing how much smoother the ride can be when you know there aren’t people wondering where you are.
Keep it clean
A messy car can simply be a sign of a busy life. It can also be however, a source of stress and distraction. We all know that a disorganized desk can have profoundly negative effects on our productivity, and that a cluttered home can actually cause anxiety; these same facts also apply to our smallest living space – our vehicle. We spend numerous hours of our lives in the car and yet keeping the interior clean and organized often ranks low on our priority list. Simple tricks like bringing in coffee mugs from the morning drive when you return home in the evening, having a trash container, and planning a quick weekly cleanup can help to de-clutter your driving space, de-stress your busy life, and allow your focus to stay on the road.
Use driving alternatives
The most important driving reminder we can pass along to you is one you have heard many times before. Don’t drink and drive. We know that social drinking can be an important aspect of your job as well as your social life, and that getting home from such social engagements, often with your vehicle, is also very important. Maybe taking a cab or public transportation and leaving your car behind is not an option for you. Luckily for us, in nearly every major city in Canada exists a form of driver alternative service that will get you and your car home safe (see list below). So there, you have zero excuses to ever drink and drive. Period.
Like the old saying goes: “driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.” Take just a quick moment to imagine trying to live your life without a car. For many of us it would be nearly impossible. Making sure to always pay attention to the road, allowing yourself plenty of time, keeping your cool, maintaining a tidy space, and using alternatives when necessary will ensure you get where you need to go successfully, safely, legally, and alive.