It may sound a little new-age to say, but having a clean environment can really help you think clearer and make better decisions. It also helps when your phone isn’t dropping onto your foot or your hot coffee isn’t spilling all over your hands and lap. If you’re having a hard time keeping your car clean, then try these clever (and cheap) hacks so your brain and body can function effectively.
When you step into your car, your mind is technically processing a lot of information. Smells, sights and sounds all have subtle impacts on what we do and say. Almost all of the time, it’s things that we don’t consciously notice because we’re too busy focusing on other things like getting to our friend’s party on time or what song to listen to first. However, they can spell trouble for us if they’re somehow distracting us from what’s on the road. If your car is a mess, then it takes a toll on how you feel. An unclean car that smells of sweat socks or has stuff everywhere can make us more likely to feel sloppy causing us to make sloppy mistakes on the road.
Let’s start with the trash. Take it out! If you haven’t used something in over a month, then chances are you don’t need it! Registration and titles can be kept in your glove compartment so you’re not searching through a mound of useless papers that have been building up for months. An added incentive is that they won’t get kicked up by the wind and then lost to space during a particularly fast turn. If you have a lot of papers, then get a coupon organizer to separate them. Keep a trash bag clipped on your backseat pocket or use a cereal container as a receptacle for when you need a late-night burger and don’t know what to do with the cheese-encrusted wrapper. It’ll keep odors and stains out of your car, so you can (literally) breathe easier.
Now we’ll talk about how the many activities that you’ll do in your car that can distract you, like stopping for fast food. (Hopefully the eating is mainly being done by your passengers only, since you want to stay focused as the driver.) Your friends can use a shower caddy though to keep burgers and fries together and prevent spills. Use a duct tape roll or a shoe to hold up cans of soda or coffee if you run out of cup holders. Also, your phone isn’t doing you any good if it’s not secured. It’s just going to slide around, and be a huge pain to find if it falls between the seats. Since you likely need it for navigation, then you can either buy a phone mount or make one out of a binder clip. It’s pretty easy to do and find instructions for, and it’ll save you a lot of annoyances on the road.
These things may seem small (and that the strength of a driver is not determined by whether or not there are ketchup stains in the backseat), but all of your senses work together to make decisions. Feeling uncomfortable makes your time on the road unpleasant, which really doesn’t make for the most optimal driving conditions. Being surrounded by your unsecured things can also make you worry about opening the windows or how you’re ever going to find what you need when the time comes. A clean environment is not as important as being sober and alert, but it’s definitely another way to get you to be a safer driver.
Presumably you’ve already driven many, many times without major incident, so why do you need to make any improvements? The truth is, we all need to hear this as a reminder of just how much responsibility having a car and being on the road means. Why not give yourself an advantage with a cleaner car? Another way that you can give yourself the advantage is by taking a defensive driving course. These courses are all about giving us real-world, useful tips that can keep our driving records clean and our insurance rates down.