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Driving without distraction
Editor's note: This week, Dec. 6-10, is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week and to commemorate, Street Smarts guest blogger Pete Peterson of Driver's Yoga discusses ways his program can help seniors and their families fight distraction on the road. Contact Peterson at www.driversyoga.com or at (831) 332-4022. How to remain a collision-free driver is a major concern for everyone who drives. If there is any one area in our lives where we all need to pay attention, it is how to be the safest possible driver. My e-guidebook, "The Art of Looking through the Windshield" provides a solid foundation to refresh your driving skills, increase the time between moments of distraction and stay safe and crash free. We operate a vehicle with our body, yet we drive from between our ears. There are many forms of distraction. Our own thoughts are the most disruptive. When you add talking on a mobile phone, attention diverted to your daydreams or holiday to-do list, all while driving, you can be blind to the reality of the traffic. Shared experiences we‘ve all had as drivers are, driving past an intended freeway exit, hearing a horn blare as we daydream while waiting for the traffic signal or seeing a familiar landmark and exclaiming to yourself, “Gee, I’m here already!” Where were we? Kind of scary isn’t it, especially when you consider you are operating a potential lethal weapon. You cannot pay strict attention without being in the moment. Anything less is at most a blurred vision or an accident. To drive defensively, you have to pay attention. Defensive driving is the act of anticipating a hazard coupled with courtesy. Attention works in two main ways: Focusing attention speeds up the brain's processing of what you want to pay attention to and slows down the processing of what you want to ignore. If an inmate’s object is to get out of prison, the first thing one must do is recognize that one is in prison. The same process of recognition applies to our own diverted attention while driving. Most importantly Driver'sYoga allows you to pay attention while driving that lethal weapon. When a person is aware that they are focusing they have "heightened attention." This is critical to focusing on the moment and sounds a mental alarm when distracting thoughts vie for a driver’s notice. I developed a simple step-by-step process that when practiced as taught can lengthen the period between being distracted and returning your concentration back to the roadway here and now. Driver'sYoga is but a spoke on the wheel of self-awareness but a very important one. It deals with the most dangerous activity that most of us do on a daily basis. After speaking to a local chapter of an international group in November, a member of the audience stood up and stated that she appreciated a technique putting spirituality into driving with the emphasis on attentiveness and being in the moment. ‘The Art of Looking through the Windshield provides a method to help keep you focused when driving, especially important in this traffic clogged high stress holiday season. Aging drivers, adult children of aging parents and beginning drivers can all benefit from learning this technique. For adult children and older drivers it keeps the talks about driving concerns under the umbrella of Driver'sYoga. The technique offers a bonding experience for aging families and provides for positive communication and reduces the reaction of defensiveness. The Art of Looking through the Windshield provides a means to extend seniors safe driving years and reduces the threat of losing their independence. For teenagers entering the road of their driving careers, it provides a strong foundation to support a lifetime of good driving habits. My e-guidebook is a wonderful and inexpensive gift as we enter the holiday season. It can be purchased from Amazon/Kindle edition http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0047DX0Q2 or directly from my website www.DriversYoga.com as a PDF download. Simply click on the "Home" tab and the Pay Pal "Buy Now" button will appear. I am available to speak to groups or conduct classes. Have a safe, happy holiday. Please drive carefully!