Breaking the Conditioning: How to Get Rid of Bad Driving Habits

traffic safety

We all have bad driving habits to some extent. Whether it’s putting too much wear and tear on our vehicles through unnecessarily aggressive driving, letting our anger control the way we react to inconsiderate drivers on the road, or slipping into unsafe driving behaviors even when we know they are wrong, it’s all too easy to develop poor driving habits and then reinforce them, usually unconsciously, through repeat performances on the road. 

Fortunately, habits are not unbreakable, and bad habits can be replaced with good ones with relative ease if we are willing to acknowledge our bad habits and work steadily to displace them. Here are a few simple tips to help you break your conditioning as a driver and improve your driving habits for good.  

Consider the Cost

Bad driving habits take a toll. For a simple example, think about overly-aggressive driving. Speeding between red lights and up to stop signs puts more wear and tear on your vehicle, and especially on your brakes, and you have to brake harder to compensate for your rapid increases in speed. As another example, think about road rage. While not everyone who deals with road rage will have a dangerous road rage incident, nearly every person who experiences road rage will have their mood upended and their train of thought disrupted by anger at another driver. Still another example is the potential cost of distracted driving, which ranges from minor (missing an exit) to dire (a serious crash). 

The costs of driving aggressively, becoming overly upset at everyday occurrences on the road, and engaging in distracted driving will stack up over time, and it’s important to think about those costs as you seek to undo your bad habits and establish new, good ones. 

Think About Your Fellow Drivers

Empathy is an important quality to cultivate in many different contexts, and it remains highly relevant on the road. In vehicles, we are often literally closed off from each other by metal and glass, and it is easy to feel as if our journeys and our destinations are the only ones that matter. By cultivating empathy for our fellow drivers, we can begin to move past bad driving habits and approach things in a more reasonable, balanced way. 

Oftentimes, situations that frustrate us on the road are simply the result of other people trying to get where they need to go, just like we are, and keeping that in the front of your mind can be a game changer for your attitude while driving. Yes, it is undeniably true that some drivers are simply inconsiderate and selfish, but we should not make their bad behavior an excuse for our own. 

Most bad behavior by other drivers can be ignored or avoided; let it flow around you, instead of butting heads with it. Open your mind to the possibility that the slights and disrespectful actions shown to you by other drivers are no more than droplets of water on the windshield of your driving experience, and wipe them away from your thoughts.

Try a Fresh Approach

Old habits die hard, it’s true, and it is indeed difficult for old dogs to learn new tricks. But if we applied that attitude to everything, we would hardly have room to grow in any area. We would be constricted to whatever tunnel we began digging long ago, and the road we carved out ourselves would be the only one we’d ever travel. 

When it comes to bad driving habits, instead of sticking to what you know – the comfortable bad habit that fits like a favorite hat – actively push yourself out of your comfort zone to see things from a fresh perspective. Drive more safely, more carefully, and with more empathy and greater calm, intentionally, purposefully, day by day, and hour by hour. Before you know it, your bad driving habits will be replaced by good ones and you will start enjoying the act of driving more than ever before.