Driving distracted by any strong emotion can be surprisingly dangerous, even when that emotion is positive (e.g. euphoria, bliss, righteous happiness, etc.) Driving while angry, however, can be particularly unfortunate. For instance, studies show that angry drivers engage in riskier driving behavior, such as speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, and they tend to have more accidents than drivers who aren’t angry.
Here are some tips to focus on the road and drive mindfully:
Take a deep breath before you get behind the wheel. Simple deep-breathing exercises can lower your heart rate when you start to rage and help physically calm your body. Ongoing mindfulness meditation practice can also steer you towards feelings of equanimity.
Practice gratitude. Take your mind off the situation that’s making you feel agitated emotions. Focus instead on the positive things in your life. Research out of Harvard suggests that itemizing three specific things a day that caused you to feel grateful (and remembering those experiences in detail) can actually make you a happier person.
Avoid stimuli that heighten your agitated emotions. Does listening to NRP these days make your blood boil? Turn it off! Check the news on the web or the TV once you’re out of your vehicle.
Pay attention to how your emotions change your driving. Do you speed? Do you tend to “zone out” while you’re thinking about something? Have you been in any “near misses” recently? Gain an awareness of how these emotions directly impact your performance.
Get the support you need. Consider talking to a mental health professional about your reaction to events, so you don’t make regretful decisions.
For more on the dangers of distracted driving, see this post that attempts to quantify the dangers of distracted driving.
If an angry, distracted driver caused an accident that injured you, contact our Washington D.C. car accident injury attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email us today to explore your strategic options.