Although drivers know the dangers of piloting a vehicle while distracted or inebriated, collision risk associated with strong emotional factors is often overlooked. Stressed, fatigued or emotional drivers can suffer from impairments that drastically reduce their safety on the road. Feeling overly happy, sad, angry, excited or sad can affect your driving skills in a negative way without raising red flags like other risk factors do, despite similar dangers.
For example, you may rush out of the house in an emergency without a second thought about how your emotions will impact your ability to drive safely. Furthermore, you may give in to the urge to hurry home after an upsetting day at work without considering how your feelings will affect your driving judgments and reaction times. Luckily, you can practice mindfulness to identify when your emotions may be impacting your ability to drive safely. From there, you can take steps to mitigate the dangers at hand for a safe drive.
Sometimes you just need to take a minute to calm down or cool off by pulling over to the side of the road. This is especially true if anger takes hold of your being during the drive. You can practice breathing exercises or walk it off until you feel your emotions stabilizing. Do not return to driving until you feel like you have your emotions completely under control.
If you are distracted by worry, sadness or deep thoughts, do your best to push those feelings away until you make it to a safe place. Once you make it to your destination, you can ruminate to your heart's content without putting yourself or others on the road in danger. You can use music or a personal signal to waft the worries or thoughts away until later. Intense focus on the road, other drivers and your vehicle piloting techniques can distract you from the troubled thoughts while you move down the roadway.
Frustration or impatience related to a need to avoid being late to your appointment can be eliminated altogether by leaving your original destination a bit early. You will be able to calmly cope with drivers who go under the speed limit or take a long time to navigate their turns if you give yourself extra time for your commute. Furthermore, you will not have to worry if you get stuck in a construction zone or at a long light. The extra time will eliminate the urge to speed to make up time, which rarely works anyway and often results in a hefty ticket. If you find yourself running late anyway, never take unnecessary risks, like attempting to beat or go around safety gates guarding railroad tracks.
Exploring Emotional Distractions
Emotions powerfully grip the mind and body in a way that distracts you from all outside events. The level of distraction directly rivals common activities, like cell phone use, that receives attention from lawmakers and the media.
Drivers distracted by their emotional state may make bad judgment calls and respond slowly to dangers in the roadway. Situations that would normally raise a red flag, such as debris in the roadway, may not even register in the distracted driver's mind.
Normal pacing skills while accelerating or braking and the ability to predict other driver's actions is also diminished by a strongly negative or positive emotional state. Making safe turns or merging into traffic often poses a problem when emotions are running high. Drivers lose their connection with others on the road and pay little attention to adverse conditions while coping with difficult or overwhelming emotions.
Road Rage Coping Mechanisms
Road rage is sadly quite common due to the increased number of drivers on the road today. Rage filled emotions increase the risk of collisions and violent incidents between drivers. Furthermore, these situations put innocent bystanders at risk of bodily harm and property damage. The overreactions that happen are directly related to overwhelming feelings of anger. Drivers must handle rage from other drivers appropriately to deescalate the situation and increase the chance of escaping unscathed.
When someone expresses rage toward you and your vehicle, it is important to attempt to distance yourself from his or her vicinity by pulling over. Keep your doors locked, windows shut tight and stay inside your vehicle, in case the other driver stops too. Sit calmly and reassure your passengers that everything is under control. Do not make any quick movements or say anything to the other driver that could worsen the situation.
Do your best to communicate regret and sorrow that the situation occurred without rolling down your window or opening your door. You can use an open-faced hand gesture and mouth an apology to show the other driver you mean no harm and feel badly that the situation occurred. If you often make mistakes behind the wheel, consider carrying an apologetic sign to show to other drivers who may misinterpret your actions as purposeful.Don't Lose Control
Do not allow your emotions to run out of control during this encounter. Doctors interviewed for a recent study noted that more than half of all people are victims or perpetrators in road rage incidents at least once in their lives. Appropriately handling the situation will quickly diffuse anger and end the encounter fairly quickly.
If you cannot escape the other driver, you can call the local authorities for help. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than ten thousand road rage incidents end in collision each year. If you have passengers, especially minors, in the vehicle, it is incredibly important to do all you can to remove your vehicle as the target for the other party's rage.
Road Rage Prevention Techniques
Road rage often occurs because drivers see the other party's mistakes as purposeful actions against their vehicle and its occupants. Instead, drivers must see the errors as the accidents they are. Otherwise, feelings of fear could turn to anger that feeds the road rage incidents. A quick apology reminds fearful and angry drivers that the mistake was not directed at them, which often diffuses the situation before it escalates into violence or a collision.
Staying In Control
Once you master the ability to identify and control emotions while driving, it is important to turn your attention to other factors that influence the risk of collisions. Distracted driving of all kinds, including cell phone use, eating and pet care, pose a serious risk to the safety of yourself, your passengers and all other people on the roadway.
If you need to apply makeup, read a map or correct your children, pull off to the side of the road to complete the task. Only return to the roadway once you are able to focus your full attention on driving your vehicle safely. Consider grabbing an earpiece for your phone, or connecting the device to your radio and microphone, for hands-free calls anytime. Remember to always maintain your focus on the road while controlling your emotions for a safe drive.