Mindfulness for drivers

There is a body of research that suggests that mindful driving can improve driver awareness and increase driver safety.

Cause of collisions

Many collisions on the roads are caused by failure to look properly or emotional/physical distraction. One in five new drivers will have a collision within the first six months of learning to drive. Failure to look properly is the largest collision factor for young Sussex drivers (and this is the same nationally).

Learn to drive more mindfully

We have worked with the Road Safety Department of Brighton and Hove Council to produce a short, engaging film to introduce mindfulness to young drivers.

The film helps drivers centre themselves to engage fully with the road environment when they are driving, and to avoid distractions. Watch the film to learn simple techniques to improve your safety behind the wheel.

Film won international acclaim

The award-winning film was created as part of Brighton & Hove’s ‘Mind in Gear’ campaign, which highlights the dangers of distraction to road users, and how mindfulness can help.

The Mind in Gear video – produced with the help of local filmmaker Sarah West and the Sussex Mindfulness Centre – demonstrates how easily emotion can affect driving and concentration levels.

The film was named winner of the Smart and Safe Mobility category at the 8th edition of the Global Road Safety Film Festival which took place on 21-22 February 2022.

Prefer no captions? View film | View transcript

Distraction on the roads

Road collisions are rarely accidents – someone has usually made a mistake, deliberate or otherwise. The largest cause of collisions – for all road users – is failure to look properly. As well as obvious distractions – mobile phones, etc – people’s emotional state and busy lives affect how well they engage with the road environment. It affects their ability to spot risks and avoid them.

Try this activity from the Open University to see how well you focus when distracted.

There is a specific penalty for mobile phone use (6pts, £200 fine) but this does not include other distractions that have been proven to carry a very similar risk. 

Careless Driving (3pts, fine £100) can be used as an enforcement tool for eating in the car, putting make-up on, etc, but these – along with campaigns and education – seem to have a limited effect on improving drivers’ awareness and focus on driving. 

We are used to multi-tasking and the car is seen as a safe place, especially when we are in our local area. This can lead us to drive on autopilot. In addition we are all subject to emotions, time pressures and the needs of others, as well as ourselves. Being in charge of a vehicle – even travelling at urban speeds – unwittingly can put us in charge of a dangerous blunt instrument. We need to make sure we fully engage with our environment.

Mindful drivers are better drivers

People who practise mindfulness have been shown to be at lower risk on the roads. We have developed a simple practise to try before moving off, to enable better focus on the roads. This film is aimed at young drivers – who tend to use their mobile devices more than most – but it is applicable to all road users.

Where next?

See the Brighton and Hove City Council Mindingear webpage

See more about Brighton and Hove Road Safety

Read research on driving, distraction and mindfulness:

  • Assessing the Potential of Mindfulness Training in Improving Driver Safety: Crundall, Knoll et al 2020.
  • Associations between self-reported mindfulness, driving anger and aggressive driving: Stephens. Koppell et al 2018.
  • Measuring attitudes to driving safety & behaviour The IAM Safety Culture Index.

View a further selection of publications supporting mindfulness training for drivers.

Mindfulness resources

We’ve put together a page of useful resources for you to start exploring mindfulness.

For more information about Road Safety please contact: