5 tips for choosing the best podcasts for driving (and our 10 favorites)
October 18, 2021
One of the best things about podcasts is they make chores a little less tedious. Laundry day? Get all caught up on movie news. Making dinner? Learn about the history of pretty much anything while you chop veggies.
But what about a task where you need to be a little morefocused, like driving? Is it safe to listen to podcasts while driving? Well, we have some good news for those of you addicted to podcasts.
According to the BBC’s Science Focus Magazine, “Listening to a podcast is usually a passive enough activity that it leaves ample mental resources for you to do other things at the same time, including driving.”
The important word here is “usually.”
The best podcasts to listen to while driving aren’t always the most popular. Not to worry. There are over two million podcasts with about 48 million episodes out there; all you need to do is be a little more mindful about what your ears are listening to.
How to pick a great podcast for driving to work—or anywhere1. Avoid angry subjects. You want to stay calm and focused while you drive. That’s going to be tough if you’re slamming a rage-filled rant about the misdeeds of your least favorite politician into your brain. Go for something insightful, not inciting.
2. Learn something new. The Census Bureau discovered most Americans who commute are spending about 27.6 minutes each way on their drive. That’s almost 5 hours of lost time a week. Turn your car into a chill classroom and make the most of it.
3. Embrace positive stories. Lift your mood and reduce stress by listening to podcasts featuring uplifting topics. Psychology professor Hal Urban, in his book The Power of Good News: Feeding Your Mind with What's Good for Your Heart, makes the case that a steady “diet” of “good news” can have long term positive effects on health and happiness.
4. Have a laugh. Choose funny podcasts to listen to while driving. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” All of which can contribute to better focus. Laughing actually does make your brain work better.
5. Go for long form. One of the defining features of podcasts is that they are not limited by time. Selecting episodes you can listen to for your whole commute will keep you from fidgeting with your phone, which is a major cause of distracted driving.
HiRoad’s top ten podcasts for mindful drivers
It’s just about impossible to talk about podcasts without mentioning the ones you like. Here are a few interesting podcasts for driving that fit the criteria above and are recommended by your friends at HiRoad. They’re pretty diverse, but they all more or less share a bit of humor and an interest in human connection.
(For simplicity, these links are all for the Apple Podcast app, but they’re all available wherever you like to listen.)
Hidden Brain. Here at HiRoad we’re obsessed with human behavior and relationships. Shankar Vedantam explains how our unconscious minds influence how we interact with each other.
Curiosity Daily. This is one of the best short podcasts. It’s a mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news, and more. Perfect for a quick commute.
Invisibilia. This podcast from NPR explores how our ideas, beliefs and biases are shaped by unexpected forces. It’s surprisingly riveting for a science-heavy show.
Dolly Parton’s America. Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? She’s a national treasure! This 9-part series is deeply personal and inspiring. Old fans and new fans will love it.
Over the Road. Ever wondered what life’s like for long-haul truckers? This funny and personal show will answer questions you never even knew you had.
How Did This Get Made? This show’s about movies that are so bad they’re good. For some films, things can get a little adult. So earmuffs if you’re driving with the kids.
On Purpose with Jay Shetty. Jay’s one of the best interviewers we’ve ever heard. He gets influential guests to open up their personal lives and share how they achieve success.
The Infinite Monkey Cage. You might not think science is naturally funny, but this BBC podcast manages to make you laugh while you learn. It’s one of our favorites on this list.
Good One. This one’s about jokes and the people who tell them. Each episode has an interview with a different comedian talking about a favorite bit. Earmuffs for this one, too.
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris. We’re into this because we’re interested in mindfulness. The guests are great and their app is an excellent way to start a meditation practice.
The best podcasts to listen to make you connect
The last thing to keep in mind, beyond our tips and picks, is that we live in a big, beautiful world. Keep an open mind and try new shows from time to time. You just might discover a whole new community or hobby that’ll change your life. Keep your ears open and your eyes on the road ahead.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with HiRoad®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. HiRoad is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. HiRoad makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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