When you get into a car, you tend to take your emotions with you. You may be upset or stressed about something that happened at work. You may be angry about a driver who cut you off or is driving too slowly. You may be agitated by the noise coming from your kids in the backseat. You could also be sad, crying or depressed after hearing about the loss of a loved one or some other bad news.
While feeling those emotions when you drive is perfectly natural, it can also be highly dangerous, according to a new study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).
As the VTTI researchers found, allowing your emotions to get the better of you when behind the wheel can be a highly dangerous form of distracted driving and increase your risk of getting into a car accident “nearly tenfold.”
For example, when you are emotional – and your mind is not on driving – you may end up following a car ahead of you too closely, miss traffic signals or lack general awareness of your environment.
The researchers also found that drivers spend more than half of the their time behind the wheel engaged in some form of distracted driving activity, and when they do give in to those distractions, it nearly doubles their crash risk.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published the study, which VTTI describes as being “the largest light-vehicle naturalistic driving study ever conducted.” It involved more than 3,500 participants who allowed monitoring equipment such as cameras and sensors to be installed in their cars.
How To Keep Your Emotions From Distracting You While Driving in Charlottesville
One of the benefits of such a large study is that it provides us with an excellent picture of the causes of distracted driving. In turn, it helps us to develop countermeasures which can be taken to effectively address those causes.
For instance, in recent years, one measure that Virginia and the majority of states have taken is to enact a ban on texting while driving.
However, no state or municipality can pass a law that requires you to control your emotions when you are driving. Instead, that is something we must each address individually. As the VTTI study indicates, it will enhance our safety to do so.
When you find that your emotions are interfering with your ability to focus on driving, we suggest that you:
- Take deep, long breaths to help yourself calm down. As health.com suggests, you should try to inhale through your nose and count to four and then count to seven as you exhale through your mouth.
- Pull over if you are unable to calm down. Find a safe spot away from the road. Close your eyes for a few minutes and take deep breaths. If you are off the road and not driving, it may be a good time to call a family member or friend who can help you to calm down.
- Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. If you can sense that you are feeling stressed or anxious, avoid getting into a situation where you may be agitated, rushed and more likely to take risky actions such as speeding or weaving through traffic.
To get an idea of how dangerous distracted driving can be, check out our Reckless Driving Simulator and sign our pledge to avoid driving while distracted by any causes, including your emotions.
Hurt by a Distracted Driver? Our Winchester Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
Unfortunately, even though you may take all steps to drive safely and avoid risky behavior behind the wheel, you can be the victim of a careless or reckless driver.
If you have been in an accident through no fault of your own in Charlottesville, Winchester, Harrisonburg, Woodstock, Staunton, or other surrounding areas in Virginia, get in touch with Kendall Law Firm. We can thoroughly investigate your case, including looking into the possible role of distracted driving. We can also aggressively pursue just compensation for you.
Call us or reach us online today for a free consultation.