How Stress Affects Your Driving
Some driving distractions like using a cell phone or playing music too loud are obvious; but others, like being stressed, aren’t always so evident. When we’re overcome by worry or anxiety, we can be a danger on the road. Drivers who are extremely emotional, especially in a negative way, can’t always concentrate on the things that need their attention.
If you feel like you’re not in a right frame of mind when you’re about to drive or while you’re on the road, you should take time to calm yourself. And, you should absolutely refrain from driving until you do. Here’s why:
Mood Swings Lead to Bad Decisions or Dangerous Indecision
When you’re stressed, your mood can change in an instant, making what seemed like a casual drive, suddenly a frantic and hurried one. In seconds, you might be overly stimulated and unable to pay attention to road rules, or react to unexpected hazards.
Sometimes, stress can lead to aggressive driving and even road rage. If the police catch you engaging in road rage, you can get a ticket or even face criminal charges.
Possible Consequences of Driving Stressed
If you’re stressed and you drive, you may cause harm to yourself or others. By not paying enough attention, you increase the chances of getting into an accident, rear-ending the car in front of you, or even hitting a pedestrian.
Any of these consequences could leave you subject to a personal injury lawsuit. This might mean hefty court fines and increased insurance premiums, if not out-of-pocket monetary liability. Whether you’re consistently stressed or it’s a rarer feeling, it’s best that you learn how to get a handle on stress before driving.
What Can Cause Stress
Understanding what leads to mental tension is one of the first things you should learn when remedying stress. Some examples of actions and events that can cause you to be stressed include:
- Being cut off on the road by another driver
- Getting into an argument with a significant other, friend, or family member
- Challenges at work
- Running late for somewhere you have to be
- Receiving sad or bad news
Stress can also be caused by positive events in your life, such as a holiday gathering, planning a birthday party or wedding.
What to do if You’re Stressed
Whenever you find stress creeping into your life, take a minute to acknowledge it. Understand that you’re stressed for a reason; don’t just throw it under the rug. Sit with it and try to figure out how you can change your emotions into a positive state. This certainly isn’t easy all the time, but you must learn to control stress if you want to drive safely & live a healthy life.
While driving, if you feel stressed, you should pull over and gather yourself. Make sure you are in a safe place to pull over. Take time to be mad or upset, and then plan to fully explore your feelings later if you need to be behind the wheel at that time. Try to think about the present moment and what you need to do, or where you need to go. Put on some cheerful and inspirational music if you must (at a low decibel), and then make every attempt to pay attention to the roadway until you arrive at your destination. Take your time and do not rush to your destination.
Many people deal with stress differently. While we can’t always escape it, we must find a way to take charge of it and not let it ruin our lives, because if we get into a car accident due to stress, our lives can be dramatically impacted.