Coffee Break

Why You Should Never Drive When You Are Upset

Early in his journalism career, Kerry L. Tucker had a revelation: there were not enough experts reporting on law issues. Legal matters are part of daily life. Yet, there seems to be a general aversion towards them. One of the main reasons for this is that the convoluted legal language is difficult for many people to follow. Therefore, he decided to change how the law is perceived by the public. Throughout his career, he met with many people who shared their personal stories with him. Some of these hit him harder. One of the cases that stayed with him and influenced his future career development was a car accident case involving a child. From then on, he decided to zero in on car accident lawsuits.

Why You Should Never Drive When You Are Upset

Texting while driving can be dangerous but getting into your car when you are upset is the worst. Extreme emotions may lead to distractions and put you at a higher risk of accidents. So, before turning the key to the ‘on’ position in the ignition, you need to fully understand that your emotions, whether negative or positive, can play a vital role in driver safety on the road.

Strong negative emotions like being upset or angry can influence your thoughts and prompt you to make wrong choices that could prove costly. Strong positive emotions may also switch your attention from what is happening on the road.

Like many other tasks that can have deadly consequences if not done right, driving requires your full attention. It would be best if you kept your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. How focused you are on the road determines your safety.

How Do Strong Emotions Affect Driving?

Strong emotions like being upset will not only affect your productivity and focus when doing household chores, but it can also negatively affect you while on the road. Here’s how:

  • You can miss a red light or stoplight.
  • You can drift into another lane.
  • You may hit a pedestrian.
  • You risk sideswiping another car.
  • You may forget to use side mirrors, leading to blind spots.
  • Strong emotions may cause conflict between you and other traffic participants.
  1. Miss a Red Light or Stoplight

When you are driving under emotional distractions, you can be in deep thoughts to the point of ignoring traffic signals and road signs. You may accidentally run the red light and, in turn, cause a car crash or you may miss a school zone sign, drive over the speed limit in the zone and have to do a lot of explaining to the cop waiting for you just around the corner.

  1. Drift Into Another Lane

Another result of distracted driving is drifting into other people’s routes. If that happens, you might disturb other drivers and even up the risk of a rear-end collision. And if you drift into the opposite lane, you are at risk of a head-on collision, which is the same as hitting full speed a rock wall.

  1. Hit a Pedestrian

When you are on the road, it’s ideal to be mindful of other traffic participants. However, that cannot happen when you have your mind busy with other thoughts. If you are stressed, you risk not seeing pedestrians even when they are crossing the road.

Don’t assume that they are more vigilant than you, especially if they are older people (over the age of 65) or children (under 15). Other risk factors associated with hitting pedestrians are speeding, urban areas, low-light conditions, and locations outside intersections.

  1. Sideswipe Another Car

By any chance, if your vehicle drifts into another lane, you might sideswipe the car on that lane, which may result in damage to both cars and even injuries. It may also make you compensate for the other driver’s damages on their car.

Sideswipes are quite common when a vehicle drifts into another lane, especially if the driver is distracted, tired, drunk, or impatient. Other causes include changing lanes without checking whether there is any blind spot (this one is widespread among truckers) and merging into a lane without making sure that another driver is about to do the same simultaneously. Being upset behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster in any of these scenarios.

  1. Failure to Use the Side Mirrors

Many things aid a driver on the road. The side mirrors are one of them. When you are in the parking lot, you can use them for parking. However, when you are distracted, you might fail to properly adjust and use the rearview mirror, which can considerably increase your risk of accidents.

  1. Can Cause Conflict Between you and Other Traffic Participants

When not being able to stay focused behind the wheel, the worst that can happen is colliding with other traffic participants, including the police. If you know you are extremely upset about something, never go ahead to drive. When on the road, upset or distracted drivers are more likely to misbehave, and traffic officers might notice you.

Naturally, other drivers and police officers expect you to respond well when you confront them. However, you might not be in the mood of being polite and cooperative when other things on your mind are troubling you. So, if you don’t want to lose your license, stay calm, rely on arguments not shouting to make a point, and be proactive, not reactive.

Tips for Upset Drivers

When under a lot of stress, it is best to avoid driving altogether. Take a cab, an Uber, or ask a friend or family member to give you a lift when in need. Also, don’t resort to substances like drugs or alcohol to calm yourself down just because you are upset. Alcohol might temporarily ease the pain, but it doesn’t absolve you from the consequences of your actions.

Seek healthy ways to relax, like letting fresh air into the car and listening to relaxing music. If you cannot regain your concentration, pull over and walk a bit or rest for a brief time. Even if you want to get someplace in time, it is best to be able to get there than not getting there at all.

Also, set limits to the period you plan on driving. When upset, your brain needs plenty of rest to rejuvenate and recalibrate. Never get drowsy behind the wheel. Also, if you are under the influence of strong emotions, engage in defensive driving.

Defensive driving means being proactive on the road rather than reactive. For instance, allow a distance of at least 12 seconds between your car and a road hazard to have enough time to react if something terrible happens. Also, do not tailgate. You should be able to count to three before reaching the rear-end of the car in front of you to prevent rear-end accidents and needlessly stressing out other drivers.

Final Thoughts

Having strong emotions behind the wheel can be as dangerous as drunk driving. You risk making mistakes that can put the lives of other drivers and pedestrians at risk, or you might even cause a car crash with deadly consequences.

That is why it is never advisable to drive when you are angry or extremely upset. And the same goes for other drivers. One piece of good news is that if you were injured in an accident by a driver with poor emotional self-regulation, you could hire a car accident attorney to squeeze the compensation you are due from them and their insurance company. Just don’t be that reckless driver.