October 12, 2009
Think about it. You’re hurtling down the highway inside a three-thousand-pound metal box, surrounded by other speeding metal boxes and immovable objects. Delay for a second or two in stepping on the brake, or let the steering wheel veer off by twenty degrees for as long as it takes to draw a breath....
Driving provides continual opportunities for us to wake up, to be mindful. There is no other daily activity for which moment-to-moment awareness is so important, or the consequences of inattention so immediate and potentially catastrophic.
Given this danger, you’d think we’d be in a constant state of hyper-arousal while driving. But in fact, the opposite seems to be true. It’s often difficult to give driving the attention it deserves; we find ourselves zoning out, operating on autopilot. And because of the mental space this allows, we can get caught up in anger, impatience, or anxiety that distract us and can impair our judgment.
- Paul Conrad, "On the Road," Tricycle Winter 2002