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Emotions on the road endanger life

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st June 2010 03:00 AM

MOST drivers are aware of the effect that things like drinking and cell phone use have on driving safety, while giving little consideration to other factors that can be even more distracting.

MOST drivers are aware of the effect that things like drinking and cell phone use have on driving safety, while giving little consideration to other factors that can be even more distracting.

Fatigue, stress, and our emotions have a serious effect on driving, causing impairments that we may not even be aware of. If you are worried, upset, frightened, depressed, or even excited, your driving skills can be as negatively impacted as they would be if you were engaged in an intense phone call or after drinking a lot of alcohol.

Many times we do have to drive after facing an emergency, for example, after being notified of the sudden illness or death of a loved one; or even after a confrontation with another person, such as a particularly upsetting incident at work.

A serious distraction
Research has proven that human beings in the grip of negative (and sometimes positive) emotions have exhibited a distraction level even more serious than those experienced by cell phone users. Such emotions can cause otherwise excellent drivers to:

•Experience dimmed or otherwise impaired observation and reaction times.

•Fail to recognise situations, such as an abrupt slowing of traffic or debris in the road.

•Get to the point that they are unable to predict or to determine what the other drivers around us are doing.

• Make risky maneuvers and risky changes, such as cutting across several lanes of traffic to take an off-ramp, suddenly change lanes, or even to drive on the freeway shoulder.

• Lose the ability to perform driving skills that require precise timing or other subtle skills.

• Make a driver feel as though he or she is detached from the other drivers, vehicles, and conditions on the road.

Dealing with road rage
It has become common these days. Road rage has been responsible for many accidents and even bodily injury, due mainly to an overreaction and the personalisation of driving situations.

If something happens to make you believe that you could become the focus of another driver’s rage, here are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

•Remain in your car, and if approached on foot, roll up the windows and lock the doors.

•Even if you are just talking with a passenger, avoid making gestures that another driver could interpret as hostile, rude, or otherwise negative.

•If you accidentally do something that annoys or upsets another driver, make overly-exaggerated expressions of regret, hold hand in a prayer gesture, mouth the word “sorry,” make a silly grimace¯anything that will send the message that you acknowledge an error.

This works very well to diffuse a situation. Some drivers have even begun to carry a printed sign that simply says “sorry” in bold letters, to hold up if they do something that annoys another driver.

According to a survey conducted by doctors on the topic of road rage, over half of all drivers in America will either express “road rage” themselves, or encounter another driver in a fit of “road rage” focused at them while they are driving.

The US Highway Safety Office reports that each year, tens of thousands of automobile accidents can be linked directly to the expression of road rage or by aggressive driving. An extremely frightening statistic: road rage accidents are now the leading cause of death for our children.


www.dmv.org

Emotions on the road endanger life

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