Almost all motorists recognize the dangers associated with driving while distracted or drunk, but did you know that driving while emotionally distressed also significantly increases your risk of being in a motor vehicle collision? New studies confirm that persons driving while upset, sad or angry place themselves and other motorists at substantial risk.
According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, motorists who are driving when they’re angry, sad or otherwise emotionally off-center increase their accident risk by ten fold. In fact, according to the study, the risks of driving in an emotionally distressed state are much higher than driving while distracted. The study found that driving while engaged in activities that caused the driver to take his or her eyes off of the road, like using a cell phone or texting, doubled the accident risk for motorists.
There is a reason why emotional driving may be even more dangerous than distracted driving and other types of dangerous behaviors. When a person is emotionally off kilter, they often fail to recognize how it may impact their ability to drive safely. In comparison, motorists who text while driving or use a cell phone while driving are usually aware that what they’re doing increases the risk of an accident. In other words, if you’re driving in an emotionally fatigued or overly excited state, you may not appreciate the need to slow down or be more cautious while driving.
If you find yourself struggling with emotions because of worry, anxiety, sadness, or distress, try to push those feelings aside at least until you have reached your destination. Alternatively, pull over somewhere safe, and take a few minutes to compose yourself. Take deep breaths. Tell yourself that you will allow time to deal with your emotional distress and the causes of it once you reach your destination. Of course, this is not always easy to do, but taking the time to consider how much worse an accident will help you make the right choice for yourself and others on the road.