In our fast paced, modern society, stress has become a fact of life. From work, to the daily grind, even the rush hour traffic, all these contribute to our daily stresses. Stress has a large and negative impact in our day to day lives. Even our driving is affected by stress.
Driving is a complicated undertaking – you need to pay attention to the road, the other drivers out on the busy streets, the pedestrians, and the backseat drivers we let into our cars. It requires concentration and patience, and the presence of mind to react to whatever happens on the road in a timely manner. But knowing that stress wreaks havoc with our concentration and patience, have you ever wondered just how stress impacts our driving?
Society mainly considers inebriation and distracted driving as the usual reasons for collisions on the road. However, there is an overlooked culprit that has been causing all sorts of avoidable accidents in our highways—stress.
It is no secret that stress causes distraction and anxiety in people. When stressed people are driving, their attention spans are shortened. Their minds tend to wander to whatever it is that is stressing them out. And when the mind wanders, our attention gets diverted from the things we need to pay attention to. Stressed drivers may not see that green light turning to red, or that debris on the road, or that traffic cone warning drivers about some obstruction on the road. That’s when accidents happen. Even the way the driver accelerates or slows down is affected by stress. This is dangerous especially when merging into traffic or making turns.
Not only does stress affect our attention span while driving, it also shortens our fuse. The more stressed you are while driving, the less tolerance and patience you have for others that share the road with you. Stressed out drivers tend to react more emotionally to whatever is going out there on the road. Did somebody suddenly cut into your lane? Did some unwitting pedestrian, whose attention is elsewhere, suddenly step in front of your car? Is the person in the car with you causing undue frustration? What do you do? Do you slam on your horn for a long time to announce your frustration? Do you yell out at whoever did you wrong?
The worst case scenarios when driving while stressed are accidents and road rage. So you need to keep a cool head on while driving. If you find yourself tailgating, or cussing, or rolling your window down so you can berate someone on the road, take a moment to center yourself. Take a deep breath. Pull over if you need to and try to calm your emotions. You do not need the added stress of an accident or a lawsuit.
If a car accident does happen due to you being stressed out, express regret. Do not react in anger. Apologize and use open hand gestures. If you find yourself facing a lawsuit due to a road accident, find yourself a lawyer that is well versed in cases like these.
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