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Mindful mobility: 3 ways autonomous vehicles can improve mental well-being

We believe that our cutting-edge, autonomous technology has the potential to provide mental health support by reducing the emotional toll people experience.

Two older individuals smile as they board a May Mobility autonomous vehicle.

Technology isn’t the only thing that has experienced leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades. Mental health is a topic that is often top of mind in discourse and accommodations as we try to improve our circumstances and our ability to enjoy life to its fullest. Research into the brain has helped the world to better understand the challenges some of us face, including anxiety, depression, stress and more. There are many every-day occurrences that can exacerbate these feelings and cause distress. One is an inability to get where you need or want to be when you need or want to be there. We believe that our cutting-edge, autonomous technology has the potential to reduce the emotional toll people experience every time they have to get behind the wheel or find they are unable to do so. Here’s how.

Increased free time

When we see a decrease in traffic congestion, we can all reclaim valuable time spent driving. Instead of spending 51 hours per year stuck behind a wheel in traffic, that time can be spent doing the things that matter most: hanging out with family or friends, enjoying hobbies, work, or just relaxing. And improving the use of time includes the inevitable time spent on the road because riding in one of our autonomous vehicles is similar to taking other forms of public transit. Passengers are free to call up a friend, pull out a laptop to get a head start on work, read a book, take a power nap or enjoy the view out their window.

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to create more balance in our lives with the time we get back. This enhanced work-life balance can contribute to improved mental well-being by allowing our riders to prioritize personal time and reduce the pressures of balancing work, family responsibilities, recreation and everything in between.

Accessibility for underserved populations

Disabilities, age-related limitations, medical conditions and other factors can provide challenges to mobility. A loss of mobility can make it harder to take care of oneself and lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, shame and grief, all of which can negatively affect someone’s mental and emotional well-being. And, unfortunately, the inability to get out creates a cycle of reduced mobility and poor mental health, exacerbating health problems, eroding existing connections and potentially leading to depression.

We believe that autonomous vehicles can help offer newfound independence to those who need it. We try to plan our on-demand microtransit zones to maximize convenience for those we serve and make it easier to get out of the house. We’ve also made it our mission since day one to incorporate wheelchair accessible vehicles into our fleet and continue to make strides to improve accessible vehicle options for our riders. In addition to improving a sense of independence, having better access to transportation can also help lead to greater social interactions and strengthened relationships with friends and loved ones.

Stress Reduction

It’s no surprise that traffic congestion can often lead to frustration, anxiety and stress. Most of us have experienced at least one of those emotions as we’ve sat in traffic, watching the minutes tick by, knowing that we are late to where we’re going. But it’s not just bad traffic that gets us worked up. Getting cut off, someone running a red light or seeing a driver on their phone are a few instances that can easily get our hearts racing or blood boiling. Driving stressed or angry can dramatically increase the chances of risky behavior and also has a toll on our physical and mental well-being. We could all use a little less stress in our lives and autonomous vehicles can help reduce stress levels caused by dealing with traffic and other drivers.

As we reduce vehicle ownership in favor of autonomous microtransit and other modes of public transportation, we will hopefully see a reduction in traffic congestion. And when autonomous vehicles become the prevalent mode of transportation, we can take out the stress of constant vigilance while behind the wheel and the frustrations of other drivers. With AVs handling the driving tasks, passengers can relax and enjoy the ride and a better quality of life.

Whether it’s finding more free time to enjoy life, recovering independence through increased mobility or getting away from the stress on the street, autonomous vehicles can be a boon to our mood and mental well-being.

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