Coronavirus has caused stress levels and personal pressure to soar. Whether it is concern for loved ones, pressure of a job losses or income reductions or simply difficulty adjusting to what is ‘the new normal,’ these levels of stress can have a direct impact on one’s driving ability, causing aggressive and reckless driving.
According to the managing director of South Africa-based MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, your driving is directly impacted by your emotional state.
“Whether you are angry, sad or distracted by your personal issues,” he said, “it can cause more reckless or aggressive driving. Your ability to think and reason properly is reduced, consequently affecting your ability to make sound decisions while driving. Ultimately a negative emotional state is another form of distracted driving.”
With this form of distracted driving you may perform manoeuvres that you would not necessarily do if you were in a calm state of mind. Some studies suggest driving in a highly an emotional state can be even more dangerous than driving while using a cellphone. Particularly if you are angry, you can feel disconnected with the road and other road users.
This can easily incite volatile situations that you will regret at a later stage.
Before you get in your vehicle, assess your emotional state. If you feel out of sorts, the ideal scenario would be to not drive until you feel better. We do not, however, live in an ideal world and sometimes you simply can’t wait to calm down. When this happens, you can follow a number of tips to help you be a safer and better driver.
- If you feel too upset to calm down and drive responsibly, consider an alternative transportation method.
- Accept that if someone refuses to make way or cuts you off, it is par for the course and do not get upset.
- Leave with extra time to arrive at your destination so that you can take a leisurely drive and use the time to cool down rather than rushing and driving aggressively or recklessly
- You should know what kind of behaviours from other drivers may trigger irritation in you and if you encounter this trigger and feel upset, make a point to avoid or not react to these triggers.
- Listen to music that helps you calm down rather than agitates you or feeds your anger
- Drive more slowly than you normally would and avoid speeding if your emotions start to build in intensity.
“The world is facing a very stressful and uncertain time. It’s normal to have additional stress or to react more emotionally to situations but never take that reaction into your driving,” says Herbert.