The Dangers of Emotional Driving
Operating a motor vehicle in an “emotional” frame of mind may be dangerous. One study reported by ABC News found that drivers who are experiencing extreme sadness, anger, or agitation are ten times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Intense feelings of worry, anxiety, depression, or excitement are all risks on the road. These are distractions that impair a driver’s ability to identify or predict potentially dangerous situations. Intense emotional feelings also cause drivers to experience delayed reaction times and “tunnel vision” in some cases.
An estimated 30% of vehicle crashes (approximately 11 million in the U.S.) are avoidable. These are the ones that result from human error, such as mistakes caused by emotional intensity or distracted driving. That’s why it’s critical for drivers to find techniques to control their emotions prior to hitting the road.
Intense Emotions Are the Real Danger
Drivers with road rage are just as dangerous as those who text and drive or operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, rage may not be the most dangerous emotion. Emotional highs or feelings of elation can also create problems with distraction and driving safety.
Some of the most common triggers for negative emotions include:
- Arguments with a significant other
- Work-related stress and problems
- Actions by other drivers
- Hearing distressing news
- Running late
Here are common triggers for positive emotions that could also lead to danger on the roadway:
- A work-related success, such as obtaining a raise or a major sale
- Hearing exciting or long-awaited good news
- Eagerness or anticipation of getting to a celebration
- Winning a prize
Themba Baloyi, executive director of Discovery Insure in South Africa, said that it’s the intensity of the emotion that reduces a person’s ability to accurately complete tasks, solve problems, and maintain focus. Her organization uses telematics technology to measure the dangers of distracted or emotional driving.
The Negative Consequences of Emotional Driving
When emotions are “running high,” a driver may engage in aggressive tactics or demonstrate road rage, both of which could lead to criminal offenses. You may cause an accident by taking some of the following actions:
- Failing to stay in your lane
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Cutting in front of another motorist
- Braking hard
- Not acknowledging traffic signals
- Failing to yield to a pedestrian
Tips for Managing Your Emotions
It is critical for drivers to recognize their own emotional highs and lows in order to settle down and focus on driving. Here are some tips for when you’re driving and start to get emotional:
- Pull the vehicle over on the side of the roadway and take some deep breaths.
- Play some soothing music at a reasonable volume.
- Visualize the potential harm and consequences that your actions could cause.
- Avoid confrontations with other drivers by avoiding eye contact and refraining from negative gestures.
- Diffuse angry interactions with other drivers by waving or “mouthing” that you are sorry.
- Allow angry drivers to get ahead of you to avoid escalating a situation.
- Do not respond to the yelling or rude signals of other drivers.
- Never attempt to pull over and confront another driver—it is not worth it.
- If you perceive a threat, contact the local authorities and stay in public areas.
- Avoid using your horn to retaliate against another motorist.
If only curbing your own emotional behavior could stop all accidents…sadly, that is not the case. Distracted drivers still account for an increasing number of accidents throughout the United States, and as the amount of technology available grows, it will only get worse. If you were hit by a distracted driver in Oklahoma, the team at Car Accident Help may be able to assist you. For a free consultation, please call (405) 285-4357.
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