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How does stress affect driver safety?

Staying safe while driving requires understanding a little about the other people you share the road with.

The better you can predict other road users’ actions, the more chance you have of avoiding problems resulting from them.

Stress is common among drivers

For all the talk of the dangers that drunk drivers pose, you are more likely to encounter someone who endangers you because they are stressed. It is especially true during peak traffic hours, when the congestion causes many to lose their cool, particularly during the morning rush hour, because people are already running late.

So how can you spot a stressed driver?

A 2020 survey  found that stressed drivers did the following far more frequently than unstressed ones:

  • Harsh acceleration
  • Harsh braking
  • Speeding
  • Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing
  • Cross the center line when not allowed to do so

You should increase your distance from anyone you see doing those things, especially if you see them repeatedly doing them, as all those actions make a crash more likely.

Why should you be the one to adapt your driving to them?

Crash avoidance is always your best option. You can certainly get legal help to claim compensation if another driver causes a collision that injures you, but avoiding it altogether is far preferable.

What can you do if you feel stressed?

It’s hard to avoid stress altogether, yet if you notice it, you can take action to limit it and reduce the chance it harms your driving. The first option is not to get in the car until you feel calmer. Alternatively, try things like deep breathing, calming music and focusing on something pleasant, rather than continuing to think about whatever brought the stress on.



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