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We all know that certain activities–like cell phone use or drinking–can impair a person’s ability to drive safely. But what about a person’s emotional state? Can the way that you feel adversely affect how you drive? The following discusses how your emotions can change the way you drive and how you can cope with strong emotions to stay safe.

How Emotions Impair Good Driving

Research has shown that stress, anger, fear, depression, anxiety, and even excitement can all affect the way we drive. In some situations, strong emotions can impair a person’s ability to drive in the same way as consuming several drinks of alcohol.

When drivers are in the throes of a negative emotion they may do some of the following:

  • Experience slowed reaction times;

  • Engage in risky driving, such as sudden lane changes or driving on the shoulder of the road;

  • Feel unattached to other drivers or situations on the road;

  • Fail to recognize changed situations, such as stopping traffic or roadway debris; or

  • Fail to accurately predict how other drivers will behave.

Coping With Strong Emotions When Driving

When you are feeling the effects of strong emotions the best advice is simply to not get behind the wheel. In some situations, however, this may not be an option. For example, perhaps you have recently been notified about the death or illness of a friend or family member and need to rush to the hospital. Maybe you have had a particularly difficult incident at work and have to get home. When you simply have to drive here are some tips to keeping your emotions in check.

  • Try to relax – Before heading off, take a few moments to close your eyes and enjoy a few deep breaths. A short walk before you get on the road can do wonders for calming your emotions. Sometimes getting a drink (non-alcoholic, of course) or snack can help sooth your feelings.

  • Divert your negative thoughts – Sometimes people replay a negative incident in their minds over and over again. Other times people give in to thoughts of anger or depression. Try your best to put such thoughts out of your mind when driving. Try listening to the radio and even singing along if need be. Give yourself permission to put the negative thoughts away until you are done driving and can give your full attention to your feelings.

  • Give yourself some time – Feeling rushed to get some place when you are emotional only adds to the anxiety you feel. Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination by heading out early. Resist the temptation to speed, which only increases the chances of an accident.

What to Do in an Accident

Sometimes your emotional state may contribute to an automobile accident. At other times, you may be the victim of an accident caused by the emotional state of another driver. In any situation, if you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile accident, speak with a skilled Atlanta car accident attorney today. The personal injury attorneys at Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC, have years of experience helping personal injury victims navigate the Georgia legal system to hold those responsible for their injuries accountable.

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