The Zen Traffic Warrior

10,450 views | Posted in Awareness, Videos, Wisdom | 5 comments

“I used to be pushing and pushing to get ahead… but now I am like the Zen Warrior… It’s a completely calm existence…”

This short 7 minute video by Bill Beaty shows how he has learned to drive in dense traffic, leaving a long gap between himself and the car in front.

This reduces the need for him to hit the brakes, and as a result all the traffic behind him flows smoothly at the speed he sets.

By avoiding the stop-go pattern of braking and accelerating, his driving produces smooth traffic flow. Impatient drivers can overtake, and he lets them in.

This shows how the intelligent actions of one driver can have a beneficial influence on a whole stream of traffic.

And a beneficial effect on the driver too – towards the end of the clip, Bill talks about how serene he feels driving this way.

“Now I’m the philosopher that’s helping everyone around me… It’s a totally different life as a commuter when you do it that way.”

See Bill’s website:

Compiled by Zen Moments

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind from Zen Moments Bookstore

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

By Shunryu Suzuki

“…one of the top five Buddhist books, ever  ” Elephant Journal 5 stars

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” “So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line of Shunryu Suzuki’s classic. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen as to completely miss what it’s all about.

An instant teaching on the first page. And that’s just the beginning. In the thirty years since its original publication, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind has become one of the great modern Zen classics, much beloved, much re-read, and much recommended as the best first book to read on Zen. Suzuki Roshi presents the basics – from the details of posture and breathing in zazen to the perception of nonduality – in a way that is not only remarkably clear, but that also resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page. It’s a book to come back to time and time again as an inspiration to practice. ” Amazon book review


  1. This is a great video, and I tried the technique, but it’s no match for LA traffic. Still, it’s a lovely thought…

    • Thanks – It’s Bill’s peaceful, patient attitude that’s lovely to watch.

      I guess the more the idea of being a “Zen Traffic Warrior” gets around and the more people try it, the better this way of driving will work for everyone – you’d be very welcome to use our post on MotherProof – It’s a great site you have there! 🙂

  2. Thanks for contributing this nice video, but I believe if everyone left that much space in front of their car, the extra space would further delay traffic behind your own. The best way to decrease traffic density is to cautiously close the gaps in front of you and fill in extra spaces left by other drivers and trucks while maintaining a constant speed. Slower traffic should keep right and all cars should be courteous when allowing for lane changes. Always make sure your car is not obstructing anyone else’s path, pay attention to the road, and do not use electronic devices while driving. If drivers followed these tips, traffic density would be greatly increased.

    • > but I believe if everyone left that much space in front of their car, the extra space would further delay traffic behind your own.

      Nope, doesn’t happen. Here’s why…

      Filling in spaces is also called “tailgating.” It’s bad for traffic flow because, the closer the cars are, the lower their speed. Yes, if we pack more cars on the highway it does increase the density, but also it significantly decreases the average speed. This happens because drivers as a whole will unconsciously slow down until their speed is safe. The extra cars per mile could help, but the decreased speed wins out, so their average flow rate gets worse. The jammed backups start building up and growing longer.

      But it’s slightly more complicated than that. At speeds well above 35MPH, the average flow is INCREASED if we pack more cars together. Driving at 60MPH is bad for average flow because the cars are spaced out too far. To drain out a traffic jam, let those high speed drivers all start tailgating. Yes they’ll slow down, but because of the extra cars per mile of road, the average flow increases. Trouble is, this only works at speeds above about 35MPH.

      The upshot: in heavy congested traffic, tailgating hurts the system, and anyone who spreads out and makes spaces will tend to increase the flow and drain out the jammed backups. Tailgating and packing ourselves together is only good for the system during lighter traffic where the cars flow at faster than 35MPH.

      Instead think like a traffic engineer: if cars pack together in highway commuter traffic, it’s a very unsafe situation, and someone’s fairly slight mistake can lead to a small accident. A fender-bender. Such accidents halt the entire flow for at least minutes. And the crawling traffic at the accident site can produce traffic jams of truly massive size. For these reasons, city governments pour millions into fancy signage systems and public education programs that don’t have anything to do with optimizing flow rates. They know that if the number of rush hour accidents can be reduced, then everyone gets to work much much MUCH faster (when it’s averaged over many months!)

  3. edit: If drivers followed these tips, traffic density would be greatly decreased. Sorry! 🙂

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