Most drivers are aware that they shouldn’t drink while behind the wheel or text while driving. These behaviors factor into a growing number of vehicle accidents. But many don’t realize how strong emotions can affect their ability to drive safely. In a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, it’s reported that a person’s driving performance can be seriously impacted if they experience strong emotions while behind the wheel. The study states that someone who drives while they are angry, agitated, sad or crying, and even excited are 10 times more likely to get in a crash.
How Emotions Affect Drivers
It seems logical that emotions such as anger and sadness could negatively impact a person’s driving performance. However, research shows that feeling happy or excited while driving can be just as distracting and dangerous. This is because both positive and negative emotions not only affect people mentally and physically, they also help drive behavior. When you experience strong negative emotions, you may make poor choices or use bad judgment. When you experience strong positive emotions, you may be distracted and inattentive because your thoughts are elsewhere.
Take Steps to Minimize Strong Emotions While Driving
If you need a minute to calm down, pull over and take a momentary break. This can be especially helpful if you are feeling angry or upset. It’s important to get your emotions under control before returning to the road.
Sideline your emotions.
It’s common for people to feel worried or stressed, especially on their way to and from work. You may have an important business meeting you’re concerned about or feel anxious about issues at home. When you become distracted by these types of thoughts, turn on the radio or make a point of shaking loose from any mental concerns that may interfere with your driving. Sideline these emotions by telling yourself you can think about them when you have stopped the car.
Aovid being late.
Many drivers feel frustrated and impatient because they fear being late or stuck in traffic when they need to arrive at their destination at a specific time. If you leave early and allow extra time to get where you need to go, you can help reduce the desire to drive faster or take risks that could cause an accident.
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