The dangers of distracted driving are well documented. Texting and other cell phone use, eating, and other activity that take your focus off the road can cause vehicle accidents, many time with serious – sometimes fatal – consequences.
But many people don’t realize that emotions can also have an effect on how focused you are on driving. Anger, depression, fear, even excitement, can have a negative impact on driving. Studies have been conducted to see how emotions affect us when driving. Both negative and positive emotions can cause a marked decrease in observation skills and reaction times in a driver. Some of the other results include:
- The failure of recognizing situations that should cause a reaction from the driver, such as road debris or a sudden slowdown or stopping of traffic.
- Inability to determine or predict what other drivers will do.
- Increased and dangerous risk taking, such as suddenly changing lanes, cutting across several lanes of traffic to take an exit or turn, or driving in prohibited areas, such as the shoulder on a highway.
- Marked decrease in the ability to use precise timing or other skills required in driving.
- Leave a driver feeling detached from the road and other drivers in vehicles around them.
Ideally, it’s best not to drive when upset, but instead, wait until you have calmed down. However, that is not always possible, especially in cases of emergencies. Here are some suggestions to follow if you do have to get behind the wheel:
- Pull over to a safe area and park the car. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths until you feel yourself calm down.
- As you’re driving, really make an effort to not think about the thing that is upsetting you. Listen to your favorite music to help distract you. One suggestion is to make a “dismissal hand gesture” as a visual to “dismiss” the troubling thoughts.
- If you are feeling rushed or in hurry, leaving yourself enough time to get to your destination will help avoid frustration from dealing with traffic, road construction, slow drivers or other factors which could delay your arrival.
If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident caused by the negligence of another driver, contact an experienced Virginia car accident attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss. Our personal injury firm also offers a free car accident injury guide, which covers topics such as what damages can be claimed, how much a claim may be worth, and how passenger injury cases are determined.