You wouldn’t be the first person to be stuck in traffic during your daily commute and wonder if there’s a better way of getting around. A way where you could drive less but still get what you need doing done.
The truth is, there are plenty of reasons to drive less that may surprise you. So in this article, we’ll explore the unexpected benefits of driving less that might inspire you to make a mini lifestyle shift.
From cutting down on pollution fumes, to saving a bit of money every month, to simply giving yourself some well-deserved ‘me-time’ away from the wheel, let’s dive into 18 surprising reasons you should drive less and leave the keys at home.
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How much do we actually drive?
The average American spends 17,600 minutes driving each year, according to a survey carried out by the American Automobile Association. That’s a whopping 294 hours, or 12 entire days per year!
If you’re like most of us, then driving a car can be an essential part of your lifestyle: it’s convenient and gets you where you need to go quickly.
But we spend so much time in our cars that we’re constantly trying to do things on the go… while driving! We eat, put makeup on, brush our hair, even sleep in our cars. We use our cars as a storage unit, a wardrobe and an office.
Our cars have become almost like a second home to us. But what if we used them less? What would happen then?
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Benefits of driving less
1. Save money on gas, car maintenance, and insurance
A lot of money goes into our cars. If we were to drive less, we’d be able to save money on gas, parking, maintenance, insurance,
The cost of gas is on the increase and if you’re having to fill up your gas tank multiple times a week, you’ll be paying out an increasing amount each month. So, imagine just how much you’d save if you were driving less.
Car maintenance can also add up over time, so if you drive less you won’t have to worry about those expensive bills as often. I always find that something or other will go wrong with the car at the worst possible time, leading to me having to dip into savings in order to pay the surprise fix. Driving less means this won’t happen as often.
And then there’s the cost of your insurance policy; many insurance companies offer discounts for low mileage drivers, so you could potentially save a ton by driving less.
2. Reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment
Reducing your driving helps the environment in more ways than you might even imagine.
How does driving less help the environment?
Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and since most cars aren’t very fuel efficient, they’re big culprits of this.
When you drive less, you reduce your car’s emissions and air pollutants and help keep the air quality clean and healthy. This means that whereever you are, whether in an urban area or rural countryside, everyone benefits from your conscious effort.
Not to mention noise pollution – there’s nothing worse than hearing those loud exhausts in the middle of the night when you’re trying to sleep!
So by driving less you’re doing your bit to keep our environment healthy and clean for everyone.
3. Improve your physical health by walking or biking more often
With each additional hour spent commuting by car, studies indicate the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, stress and depression increases.
However, the opposite is true when it comes to walking or cycling. We all know walking and cycling are two of the best forms of exercise, and when you drive less, you give yourself more opportunities to do these activities.
Walking or biking more often is a great way to get exercise into your day without having to find extra time out of your daily schedule.
Even little trips – like walking to the grocery store instead of driving – can have big benefits for your overall wellbeing, such as lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, reducing joint pain, improving mood and helping to boost energy levels.
It’s easy to forget to make time for exercise, but opting to walk or bike provides ample physical activity if you swap them out for driving.
4. Improve mental health by reducing stress
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, stress seems to be an unwelcome companion for many. By opting to leave the car keys at home and choosing alternative modes of transportation like walking, cycling, or even public transit, you’ll be waving goodbye to road rage, traffic jams, and parking woes.
Not to mention the financial stress of having to shell out for gas and car maintenance.
By removing these sources of stress from our lives, we can focus on the things that really matter. Taking a break from being behind the wheel is also a great way to take some time out for yourself and relax – giving your mental health a much needed boost.
5. Spend less time stuck in traffic jams
If there’s one thing I truly hate, it’s wasting time. And that doubles when I’m wasting time because I’m stuck in traffic. It’s so boring, and it can really affect your productivity levels for the day.
By driving less you’ll be able to avoid the dreaded traffic congestion, leaving you with free time in the morning or evening to get more done or even just relax.
Even if it takes the same amount of time to walk to work, instead of sitting in your car wishing it would move, you get some fresh air – plus you might even bump into someone interesting on your travels!
6. Get to know your local area better by exploring it on foot
Whether you live in a small town, city or even countryside – walking is the best way to really explore and discover new places. Not only can you see all the sights up close, but you’ll be able to take in all of that fresh air and get a much better sense of the local area.
When you choose to drive less, you can take some time out to get to know your local area, which is especially nice if you’re new to the area or haven’t seen it in a while. How much have you actually explored of your local town or city?
Exploring on foot means you won’t miss any hidden gems – from small, independent shops to cafes and bars. Who knows what you’ll find?
Plus, it’s a great way to have fun with the family or get to know friends in a different setting.
That’s why driving less and exploring your local area on foot is so important – you never know what you might discover!
7. Enjoy the peace and quiet of a car-free commute
Honking horns, loud engines, cars backfiring and screeching brakes – while you might still have to experience that when you walk or bike, it’s less likely anyone’s actually honking at you!
A car-free commute gives you the opportunity to enjoy some peace and quiet for yourself, especially if you choose to walk the back roads or take short cuts. This is especially beneficial if you work in a busy office environment, as it can help reduce stress levels and provide some calm and relaxation in your day.
It’s a great way to clear your head and a nice reminder of the power of nature for those moments when you need it most.
Take advantage of the peace and quiet that comes with driving less. It could be just what you need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated after a long day of work.
8. Make new friends when you take public transportation or ride share with others
It’s not uncommon to feel lonely when you’re driving to and from work every day – but if you opt for public transportation or ride share with others, it’s a great way to make some new friends or spend time with old friends.
You may be pleasantly surprised how many interesting people you can strike up a conversation with on your commute. This can give you someone to talk to and connect with, which is an important part of maintaining and strengthening relationships.
If you don’t have the option to walk or cycle to work, and driving is the only way, perhaps you can opt to ride share with a co-worker. That way, you’ll both be able to benefit from some company and conversation, as well as both getting the chance to drive less.
9. Protect wildlife
The more cars on the road, the more noise pollution and air pollution there is. This can have a lasting effect on local wildlife and your environment.
As vehicles travel on roads, they can cause habitat fragmentation or displacement which disrupts ecosystems. Without the sounds of roadways like honking cars, there’s space for more biodiversity. Animals are free to find sustenance in denser landscapes, increasing their food sources.
By driving less, we’re helping create the opportunity for local animals to thrive!
10. Spend quality time with family members who don’t drive
Ever see families in their car and the adult in the passenger seat is on their phone, the kids in the back seat are watching TV on tablets? It’s not the most social environment for families.
If you decide to take public transportation, walk or bike with family members who don’t drive, it’s a great way to spend quality time with them. You can chat and catch up while you travel, enjoying the view around you – something that just isn’t possible when scrolling through phones in the car!
Plus, it’s a great way to teach your children about safety, the environment and public transportation. They’ll learn important life skills while spending quality time with you.
11. Learn new skills like bike repair or navigation without GPS
I am hugely guilty of using a GPS anytime I drive, even if I know exactly where I’m going! It’s as if I don’t trust my brain. And yet, having a GPS can be incredibly useful – but I don’t think it’s necessary for every journey.
When you drive less and opt for public transportation or bike rides, you get the opportunity to practice your navigation skills and learn more about the local area.
You also get the chance to become a DIY expert on bicycle repair if you choose to ride to work. Without a perfect GPS route and having no other choice, you’ll get the chance to become better at self-reliance and problem solving on your own.
12 . Extend the life of your car by saving miles on it
Like anything, the more you use your car, the more wear and tear it will take and eventually you’ll have to replace it. Every mile you save on your car helps prolong its lifespan, allowing you to get more out of it.
Without tons of added miles and wear and tear, filters don’t get clogged as quickly, oil doesn’t get used as quickly and your engine stays fresher for longer.
Keeping up with regular maintenance – such as oil and filter changes – and refraining from racking up miles on your car can help extend its longevity.
13. Reduce the risk of accidents
There is so much distraction on the roads these days. Whether it’s checking phones, eating in the car, driving while tired, or just having something pressing on your mind, all of these activities put yourself and others at risk of getting into an accident.
Minimising car travel can help lower the number of cars on the roads, freeing up space and decreasing congestion. This reduces the risk of collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, potentially eliminating disastrous outcomes while at the same time drastically improving overall safety.
14 . Be part of a growing movement towards sustainable living
There’s an increasing shift towards sustainable living and reducing our carbon footprint. Driving less is one way to make a real difference for our planet. With fewer cars on the roads, we’re helping reduce air pollution, conserve energy and create more green spaces for us all to enjoy.
In other words, when you drive less, you become part of a positive movement towards creating a healthier and greener environment. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of!
How to drive less: 4 simple ideas
If you’re tired of spending so much time behind the wheel and looking for easy ways to cut back on driving, these simple changes to your routine can drastically reduce your time on the road.
Car pool: If you have colleagues who live near you, consider organising a car pool to work. This way, you’ll split the cost of petrol and have some company on the way to work each day.
Walk or bike: Embrace the joys of walking or cycling – it’s the perfect fusion of exercise, fresh air and lowered carbon emissions. Many cities now have dedicated bicycle routes, which makes it much safer to get from A to B.
Use public transportation: Public transport can be one of the most efficient ways to get from A to B, particularly if you’re travelling on a long journey. It’s also generally easier on your wallet than driving.
Work from home: If you have the luxury of working remotely, take advantage and save yourself the time and money of having to commute. Instead of driving to the office 4 or 5 days a week, opt to go in 2 days and work the rest of the week from home or a nearby coffee shop you can walk to.
By following a few of these tips, you can easily reduce your time behind the wheel without compromising on convenience or comfort. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment while reaping all the benefits that come with driving less.
FAQs on driving less
Why is driving bad for the environment?
Driving is bad for the environment because burning gasoline releases carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and have been linked to climate change.
What are some ways I can reduce car emissions?
The best way to reduce car emissions is to drive less. Other ways include choosing efficient vehicles, using renewable sources of energy, and reducing the weight of your car. You can also make sure your car is regularly maintained and tuned up, so that it runs more efficiently.
Do I really save money by driving less?
Yes! By driving less, you’re spending less on fuel and likely avoiding costly repairs caused by wear-and-tear. Not to mention, you’re also reducing the chance of getting into an accident, which can lead to hefty repair bills.
Is it bad to drive every day?
It’s not necessarily bad to drive every day, but it can be strenuous on your car and the environment. Try to alternate between public transport, walking or cycling when you’re able, as this will help reduce your carbon footprint and make journeys less tiresome.
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Are you ready to drive less?
It’s no surprise that driving less and utilising other transportation alternatives can be a great way to save money, reduce stress, and even live a healthier lifestyle.
However, the range of additional benefits guaranteed to come along with this transition can make it an even more attractive option. From ditching the parking frustrations, reducing your carbon footprint, making a logistical leap forward for more freedom and ease, as well as countless health benefits – it’s worth considering taking some of the keys out of your life.
Of course don’t forget the fun factor that comes from getting creative with other means of transport! Start by looking at bus stops and timetables, or exploring bike rental options in your city. Take a little time to try something new and explore how other forms of transportation can enhance your life.
You might even find yourself using the car a lot less – and feeling happier for it!