Although we may not like it, stress is a part of life. It comes from work, school, family, friends, and so on. And while some amount of stress is definitely normal, too much stress can negatively impact our relationships, our health, and even our driving.
Stress can play a huge role in whether you’re able to drive safely. But how can you ensure your safety if stress is always going to be in the picture?
Easy, it all comes down to management.
In this article, we break down what stress is, how it can impact your driving and how you can cope with it before that happens.
First things first, let’s understand what stress is
Stress is the body’s response to a major change that happens in life or in your environment. This response can be physical, mental, or emotional. So for example, someone’s response to stress could be sweating (physical), overthinking (mental), or crying (emotional). It could also include responses from all three categories, depending on the circumstances.
Stress can be caused by situations outside your control in life such as finances, family, or workplace issues. This would impact your driving if you find it difficult to set aside before getting behind the wheel. You can also be stressed by situations that you encounter while driving, such as:
A back-seat driver.
Merging or changing lanes in heavy traffic.
A cell phone constantly buzzing.
Stress can be momentary in certain situations, or it can be prolonged over a period of time. Typically, it’s prolonged stress that can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. But in terms of driving, any form of stress can pose some level of threat depending on how the individual handles it.
How stress impacts your driving
Stress is directly linked to higher levels of aggression in adults, and aggressive drivers are more likely to take risks while driving and have car accidents. They’re more likely to cut off other cars or speed through red lights. They’re also more likely to have nasty cases of road rage. Yikes.
But even if you manage your aggression well, or if stress makes you less angry and more weepy − no judgment! −, driving under too much stress can lead to distracted driving. And that’s a serious danger. In fact, thousands of people lose their lives annually in car accidents that result from distracted driving. The truth is the mental and emotional response we have to stress can cause your mind to drift elsewhere which can mean that you’ll miss the chance to react to important changes like a bend in the road or the driver in front of you slowing down.
Stress may also pose physical challenges to driving as well, in certain cases. If an individual is under extreme stress, they may start to feel lightheaded or dizzy which will significantly impact their ability to drive. Stress may also impact your ability to sleep leading to drowsy driving.
How to mitigate the effects of stress on driving
Thankfully, there are certain strategies that you can use to lessen the effects of stress while you’re on the road. For starters, if you are feeling any kind of stress before driving in the car, try to level yourself out. A simple breathing exercise may lower your heart rate and help you focus on the drive ahead. Try the following steps:
Breathe in for four seconds.
Hold for four seconds.
Release your breath for eight seconds.
Hold for four seconds.
Try to focus all of your attention while on the road.
That means ignoring certain stressors that could be a distraction, like your mother-in-law back-seat driving. You may also consider silencing your phone to prevent stress and the temptation to check notifications. In roadway situations where you can’t prevent or ignore the stressor, remain cautious while you navigate the situation.
Of course, it’s important to avoid driving while stressed for the safety of you and others on the road. However, it’s also important if you’re worried about your car insurance payments. Because stress can impact your ability to drive safely, it may also impact the monthly premiums you’ll be charged.
Car insurance companies look at your driving history before offering you a rate. If you have a history of accidents or traffic violations, it’s possible that you may struggle to find a low monthly rate. Thankfully, with the right coping skills you can battle stress on the road and get your driving history back on track. You can also find a low auto insurance rate with the help of Humble Eagle. Find out how you can get a free online quote today.
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