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People are becoming more and more aware of the dangers that distracted driving can lead to. Actions such as talking on a phone, texting, eating, drinking or talking to people are the cause of thousands of accidents each year which result in many deaths and injuries.
However, there are still many drivers that are unaware of how much their emotional state can negatively affect their driving abilities. Experiencing extreme emotions while behind the wheel will impair a person’s ability to drive just as much, if not more than texting, talking on the phone or even driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Research has revealed that experiencing both negative as well as positive powerful emotions will provide a serious distraction for drivers. States of fear, depression, anger, stress, sadness and overwhelming joy can cause you to lose focus while you are driving. Common problems brought on by emotions include:
- Decreased reaction times
- Impaired observation skills
- Failure to keep track of drivers around you
- Failure to recognize common traffic problems
- An increase in the frequency of risky maneuvers
- An inability to perform delicate and precise driving actions
- A general detachment from the other drivers and cars
There are occasions when you have no choice but to drive, even while in a stressful emotional state such as after receiving bad news or after an argument or fight. It is important in these situations to rely on certain techniques that can help you overcome your emotions and stay safe while on the road.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you should not hesitate to pull over the first chance you get. You can try to relax for a few minutes, take a few deep breaths and get your focus back on the road. If you must, you can even go for a short walk to calm you down. If you are unable to pull over, taking your mind off whatever is disturbing you by listening to some music or radio chatter can also prove helpful, as long as you keep the volume down and still pay attention to the road.
One of the most dangerous consequences of extremely emotional drivers is road rage. Drivers who drive while in a state of anger are highly likely to cause accidents or get into confrontations with other drivers. According to the US Highway Safety Office, this emotional state is responsible for thousands of accidents each year. Furthermore, over half of all drivers have either experienced road rage or been the victims of it.
If you feel like you are experiencing road rage, pull over and do whatever it takes to calm down. Realize that errors or actions by other drivers are not intentionally directed at you. Alternatively, if someone is targeting their road rage at you, do what you can to diffuse the situation. Remain calm and make gestures of apology. Whatever you do, do not get out of your car and refrain from anything that could further antagonize the other driver.
Howcast (Jan 20, 2010) – “How to Prevent Road Rage”