If you have ever lost your keys, performed poorly on a test, or nearly walked in front of a car because you were upset, then you know first hand what emotional distress can do to you. Driving while gripped by strong emotion is every bit as distracting as texting or using a cell phone. Like alcohol, this state of mind impairs your driving ability. Unlike alcohol, it is overlooked as a form of impairment by most of the driving population.
Emotions that impair driving include anger, stress, frustration, anxiety, sadness, depression, remorse, and even extreme elation. This isn’t to say that you must purge all emotions when driving. Rather, you must have enough self-awareness to know when any emotion is getting out of hand. When you aren’t your normal self, find a safe place to pull over and allow the feelings to pass. Use relaxation techniques and play calming music. If you are at a rest stop, go for a walk. Exercise is highly effective at balancing one’s emotional state.
How Emotion Affects Driving
- Reduced reaction times
- Poor driving precision
- Poor road awareness
- Inability to think and predict the actions of other drivers
Extreme emotions not only impair your thinking and ability to focus, they can degrade complex motor skills. For example, those driving a standard transmission car may have difficulty shifting gears.
If traffic causes stress or anger, give yourself more driving time and/or find an alternate route with less traffic. Handle your work or family related stress proactively by finding solutions and implementing them. Learn to keep these problems out of your mind when driving by focusing on the “here and now.” Giving your driving the focus it deserves is more than enough to keep your mind off your other concerns. Practice defensive driving and increase your road awareness.
If you were injured in an accident because of another motorist, get in touch with an experienced Boulder car accident lawyer who can advise you on your options. Contact Tenge Law Firm, LLC, today for a free consultation. We have offices in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins.