What is mindful driving?

Three senses of mindfulness.

“Mindful” is one of those terms that can sound a little precious or New Agey. 

There are academic ways of defining it, but how does mindfulness apply to people like you, with traffic-jammed commutes, packed schedules, and not enough sleep?

Do busy people have time for being mindful?

We think so! To us, mindfulness is an important part of what “taking the high road” means. For us, it starts with awareness: paying attention to what you’re doing, and what’s around you. For example, noticing the speed limit going from 40 to 30 as you cruise into a town, or noticing that the road is wet and slowing down. As the bumper sticker puts it, “Be here now.”

 

Mindfulness for us also means being more intentional about our activities — choosing things because they fit our values or who we want to become, rather than doing things out of habit or convenience.  

 

Mindfulness is also being thoughtful about how you’re affecting others. It could be the ripple effect of anger and honking that happens when you cut someone off, or the friendly wave you get when you let someone merge. It’s going against the instinct that turns you from your normal self into a selfish, angry ogre behind the wheel.

 

What’s being unmindful?

Mindfulness isn’t being distracted, oblivious, multi-tasking, or zoning out. Since a lot of driving is routine, we may be able to sneak in a quick text or bite of burrito or let our mind wander, without anything bad happening this time. But, these small risks add up and could eventually lead to an accident. Plus, when you multiply this behavior by an entire society, the consequences start to add up.  

So how does this all relate to HiRoad? We’re reinventing insurance to be based on your choices, and a key tool for that right now is smartphones — but smartphones tend to encourage us to multi-task, to be distracted, to not be mindful. We’ve all had someone almost crash into us on the sidewalk because they were looking at their phone. We’ve all been on the road, and seen someone texting and driving.

 

HiRoad and promoting mindfulness

One of the first things people notice when they start using HiRoad, is that it’s a driving-related app that isn’t meant to be used while you’re driving. And there’s a good reason for that: being a mindful driver means focusing on the road, not an app. So, while you won’t see anything from us that might distract your driving, we will offer tips to review once you’re in a place where it’s safe to review them — not behind the wheel.

By showing you how you’re doing relative to acceleration, braking, cornering, and speed, we hope to draw your attention to different aspects of your driving. To adapt the old business saying, “What gets measured gets minded,” subscores are a way for us to be more mindful of how we drive.

A key topic looking forward is how we will use push notifications with tips for mindful driving. They can be a great way of getting someone’s attention (“Look! Ding! Urgent!”). But we don’t want to distract you while you’re driving, so our team is working on making sure we don’t send notifications when you’re on the road. We’re also looking at incentives for not texting and driving, which our insurance, game design, and data science teams are collaborating on.

These are only a few ideas though, so as we keep building the HiRoad, tell us how you think HiRoad can help make mindfulness a common practice!