Preparing for the commute post-lockdown

Many people consider driving a necessity in their daily lives. Even in these hectic times, commutes remain a major factor. Many of us now find ourselves regretting the daily commute and wishing we had a reason to leave the house.

Covid-19 had a significant impact on many aspects of our “normal” life. Drivers were forced to reevaluate their car insurance requirements and implement sanitation guidelines for all industries that depend on transportation. The ever-growing availability of vaccines is likely to change activities. How will driving change as we return to pre-pandemic normal driving?

What should you expect?

Stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions, as well as increasing popularity of remote work and virtual shopping all contributed to a reduction in the number of drivers on the roads for a substantial portion of 2020. The National Safety Council (NHTSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted a remarkable rise in traffic fatalities.

Many drivers might not feel at ease behind the wheel if they have been away from the road for a while or are faced with increased traffic. This can be exacerbated by common stress triggers like these.

  • Heavy traffic – As Americans return to work and school, the roads will become more congested, increasing stress and time for your commute. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute discovered that Americans spend an average of 42 hours a year on their rush hour commute. Los Angeles drivers face almost twice that.
  • Rushed drivers – Drivers who aren’t used to planning for their commute might feel more stressed than usual. Traffic increases can lead to feelings of helplessness and urgency. It can affect our psychological well being over the long-term. Driver concerns can be so severe that they can outweigh all other concerns. According to the Los Angeles Times poll, residents are more concerned about traffic and their commute than about other important concerns such as finances and personal safety.
  • Road rage – Aggressive driving continues to be a problem for drivers. The NHTSA analyzed data from 2006 to 2015. It found an astonishing 500% increase of fatal car accidents during that period. This was due to aggressive driving. This can also affect the quality of your home life. A study showed that domestic violence is nine times more likely when there’s a lot of traffic .

Louis-Philippe Beland is an economist at Louisiana State University. He says that life stressors are emotional cues. “Our research shows that extreme cases can lead to violent responses, which can lead to people reacting to these cues in large numbers.

These factors may return or increase overall and drivers could face a difficult re-adjustment phase during post-pandemic drives. The transition may be made easier by preparing.

Get your car ready

It is important that your car is well maintained so it can cope with the demands of daily commute. This is particularly important for drivers because, although some cars have seen light usage, others may have sat in a garage or driveway for very little time.

Experts agree that safety should be a top priority as drivers venture out again into the unknown.

Car maintenance

Dan McMackin advises, “Check your vehicle before you go.” Former UPS driver who proudly works for UPS Public Relations. He explained that all of the more than 100,000 UPS drivers do this with their delivery vehicles every single day. Before they leave for a delivery, they do what is known as a “pretrip”, which is a quick inspection of all safety features on the vehicle.

He walks us through some of his inspection tips. He suggests that we check the fuel level and ensure that the lights, horns, and signals are working properly. For the best view of your road, make sure you check the tread depth and align the mirrors.

These are just a few other tips that will help you get on the road.

  • Make an appointment for an inspection. A certified mechanic should inspect your vehicle for problems such as oil, working belts, and electrical components. Local mechanics can inspect your vehicle and make recommendations for maintenance.
  • Check your battery. There is a chance that your car won’t start if it has been sitting for a while. Make sure to check your car’s battery before you leave for work so that you can charge it, jumpstart the vehicle, or replace it if needed.
  • Inflate your tires. Flat tires can quickly damage any vehicle. Check the air pressure in your tires by using an air pump, or stopping at a gas station. Inflate the tire as needed.
  • Make sure to clean and disinfect. Even if your car isn’t used often, bacteria and germs may still be present. You can do a little spring cleaning using an EPA-approved disinfectant to keep your car clean so that you and your passengers remain safe.
    • Rob Harper, Director of U.S. Retail Operations at Ziebart (an international car-care provider with over 60 years of experience), warns that “your friends and family aren’t the only thing your car could be carrying while on a road trip.”
    • “Germs can also find their way in from all parts of the country. It’s important to clean high-touch areas such as the steering wheel, door handles and lock buttons. Use disinfectant wipes. Use an alcohol swab for touch screen radios to reduce damage.
  • Your insurance policy should be updated. You may have made insurance changes based on average miles or adjusted liability limits during lock-down. Contact your provider to make sure your coverage covers the increased risks that you may face due to frequent commuting.
  • Verify your registration. To ensure that your registration is valid and current, it is a good idea to check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles. A vehicle inspection is usually required before you can get a new registration.
  • Take a look at your windshield. Harper says that many drivers have been putting off fixing cracks in windshields since the outbreak. “…no mater how small, windshield cracks can quickly spread and pose serious safety risks. To ensure your safety, make sure you have it taken care of before you drive.

Your car’s condition will help you reduce the stress associated with your commutes.

Mentally prepare

Anxiety from the COVID-19 pandemic can cause a new level of stress and fear in your commute. Many drivers are concerned about the unanticipated changes to traffic patterns and other driving hazards.

Here are some tips to help you manage stress and get ready for the return of traditional commutes, and more drivers on the roads.

Make a plan.

Many people are moving away from the 30-second commute to their home office. The most difficult adjustment for those returning to work may be leaving your home. It can be difficult to wake up earlier after working at home so much. An anxiety-relieving tip is to plan ahead for your commute to work or school.

Be aware of your anxiety

Changes to your driving experience can disrupt your routine and drive expectations. As you prepare to return to work or resume regular driving, it can add to your stress and anxiety. If you commute to work, there are some things you can do that will help reduce stress.

Tips for mindfulness in the car

  1. Slow down. If we’re running late, or in hurry, we tend to speed up or switch lanes constantly in search for a quicker route. This can lead to stress and a loss of time that is not significant. You can reduce stress by driving slower and you will probably get there in about the same amount of time as before.
  2. Create a playlist. Make a playlist with your favourite songs. Comfort and positive mood effects can be achieved by listening to your favourite tunes. You may be able to forget about the increased number of drivers and anxiety.
  3. You might consider a podcast or an audiobook. Expert podcasts and audiobooks can be very helpful for people suffering from anxiety. They will teach mindfulness and meditation techniques. These podcasts and audiobooks are intended to help you manage your anxiety and keep you calm even in the midst of chaos.

Mindfulness tips for the office

As you adapt to your new office environment, it may feel strange and unfamiliar at first. Some workers might find their workplaces have changed, while others may feel like they are in a completely new environment.

These mindfulness tips in the office can help you keep your mind calm, even in high-pressure situations.

  1. Plan your day. A plan, or a list of priorities, can help you reduce stress and uncertainty. You can have a plan of actions for each day you arrive at work so that you know what to do and when.
  2. Take on one task at a given time. If you have multiple responsibilities, it can be easy for you to get overwhelmed. Focus on one task at a time to keep your mind clear.
  3. Find your motivation. It may be helpful to remember the many benefits of your job during adjustment. Keep a list of the benefits you receive from your job by writing in a journal, or using sticky-notes.

Mindfulness tips for at-home

These wellness tips can help you maintain or improve your healthy sleeping habits when you return home.

  1. Meditation is a good practice. Meditation can help you relax your body and mind. It can also relieve stress from work or daily life. Start with a 5-10 minute guided meditation to help you fall asleep better and prepare for your day.
  2. Maintain a tidy home. You can keep your mind clear by doing little things such as making your bed and tidying up your home. Although it may seem like an insurmountable task, washing dishes and laundry is actually more conducive for relaxation and rest for you and your family.
  3. Avoid electronics. Avoid electronics. You could instead choose to listen to good music, play games, or have a conversation with friends. Or, read a book and unwind.

Continue self-care

Many people have tried to make their home a great place to work from home and to school. It may not be easy to bring your home back into a place of relaxation and connection. To increase the feeling of calm and relaxation in your home, it may be helpful to schedule meditation or mindfulness practice.

Take a look at your options

Certain states are making progress faster than others in returning to normal life. The administration of COVID vaccines has been handled by state governments. While Americans are lining up across the country to get their chance at a vaccine it seems that the future is likely to shift.

This break from our routines for dealing with pandemics could disrupt our increasing dependency on technology. Zoom and FaceTime allow for collaboration with colleagues and peers across the U.S., and have been used to facilitate meetings, exams, and even court trials. Companies that didn’t have websites (or were not useful) have made great strides in adapting to technology-driven worlds. This can open up new opportunities for employees.

You may not return to work in a physical condition. Many companies offer employees the opportunity to telecommute as a standard practice.

Talk to your employees and discuss remote work options. Remote work is an option even after normal business operations resume.

Bottom line

COVID-19 has caused many problems to American daily routines. You can expect to see more drivers on the roads with the increasing availability of vaccinations and Americans being more active in their daily lives.

It’s natural that technology plays such an important role in the COVID workforce. Many companies will feel compelled to keep working remotely, at least partially, because of this.

Employees who are anxious about returning to work and driving to their office may consider continuing remote work. This could help them manage stress for the long-term or short-term. If you are returning to full-time work, it is important to remain calm and to practice mindfulness wherever possible.

McMackin adds that tensions will increase as traffic increases, but drivers who are re-entering the traffic stream should remember that it is a privilege and not a right to drive. “We all need to be considerate of those who share the road,” McMackin says.