Commuting habits in the United States are slowly evolving as a repercussion of the pandemic shutdowns in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, 76 percent of the workforce drove alone to work, representing about 15 million people, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2021, that number dropped to about 68 percent of workers driving alone.
In 2019, about 6 percent of workers living in metropolitan areas worked from home, compared with 5 percent living outside metro areas. In 2021, the percentage working from home in metro areas jumped to roughly 19 percent, compared with 9 percent of home-based workers outside of metros.
While more people are working from home, commute times still average 52 minutes a day in the United States, and the majority of workers are still driving to their jobs. That means new drivers must be diligent if they are driving to and from school, their own jobs, or to other activities.
Use these four tips to become a smarter driver and safe commuter.
No Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is not only an umbrella term that covers most of what we do in the car that isn’t driving, but it’s the easiest way to put ourselves in danger while operating a vehicle. Talking or texting on cell phones, having friends in the car, setting up music and radio stations, eating snacks, or searching around in a bag are some of the most common ways to distract ourselves and immediately endanger ourselves and any passengers.
Set up the music playlist before you head out or put your passenger in charge of DJing, set your cell phone to silent, and pull over if there’s a real reason you have to shuffle through the bag that’s behind your seat.
Be a Vigilant Car Owner
Beyond the check engine lights and a full tank of gas, there are several things safe drivers know about their cars. Being aware of how your car operates is vital to your safety and your wallet’s health. Knowing the sounds your car makes, the movements it makes, and the feeling of driving at different speeds can help you identify if anything ever goes wrong.
Know Your Route
It’s not just texting and talking on a cell phone that puts people in harm’s way; it’s really any interaction with it at all. A glance down at the screen can be enough time for a car to pull out in front of you unexpectedly.
Looking at your map or setting up navigation should all be done before putting the car in drive. Trying to figure out the intricacies of GPS or directions is far too distracting and dangerous to be done in a moving vehicle. Program your information before you leave, whether you have onboard GPS or are using your phone. Pair your device with Bluetooth before you start so that is handled as well. It’ll save you both time and stress.
Eyes on the prize
It’s easy to get flustered, frustrated, or even aggressive by the actions of other drivers. Remember, it’s better to show up a few minutes late to something than to not show up at all. Collisions are preventable, and if every driver focuses only on driving, the roads would be safer. While it may seem like accidents happen to everyone else, remember that one glance away from the road can be enough time to put yourself, your passengers, and other drivers in danger. None of us are perfect, but constantly reminding yourself of safe driving practices is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.