Most of the time we think about road rage when we think of emotions and driving but that is not what I’m talking about here! We often think about what drinking, drugs or talking and texting can do to our driving but what about our emotional state? To learn more about how different emotional states can effect your driving take our online class
If you are angry or upset or otherwise annoyed, whether due to something unrelated to driving or because of a driving incident, pull over or off of the road. Take a few moments to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and relax. If the emotion is particularly strong, take a short walk, or go get something to drink (non-alcoholic, of course); just stay off of the road until you have time to settle down.
If you find yourself drifting into worry, depression, or if you are thinking too closely about something that has happened, make a concerted effort to put it out of your mind until you stop the car. Some people find that making a hand gesture of dismissal to themselves helps, as does the distraction of music. Use the energy to instead focus on your driving, and give yourself time to sort out the troubling issue when you do not have to drive.
If it is a matter of feeling rushed, hurried or just generally impatient, give yourself a bit of extra time before you start out. That will help you avoid getting even more frustrated with slower drivers or other things that are out of your control, such as heavy traffic or a back up due to an accident. Plus, allowing for extra time means you won’t be as likely to start speeding, which can end up saving you a great deal of stress―especially if you end up with a speeding ticket! Also, remember to always, no matter how rushed you are, stop at railroad crossings and NEVER drive around the gates or try to beat an oncoming train.
Research has proven that human beings in the grip of negative (and sometimes positive) emotions have exhibited a distraction level even more serious than those experienced by cell phone users. Such emotions can cause otherwise excellent drivers to:
Experience dimmed or otherwise impaired observation and reaction times.
Fail to recognize situations, such as an abrupt slowing of traffic or debris in the road.
Get to the point that they are unable to predict or to determine what the other drivers around us are doing.
Make risky maneuvers and risky changes, such as cutting across several lanes of traffic to take an off-ramp, suddenly change lanes, or even to drive on the freeway shoulder.
Lose the ability to perform driving skills that require precise timing or other subtle skills.
Make a driver feel as though he or she is detached from the other drivers, vehicles, and conditions on the road.
These are just some facts to think about the next time you jump behind the wheel. As Always, DRIVE SAFE!
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