It has been reported that 20 percent of all fatal car accidents involve drivers who have suffered an upsetting experience within six hours before the crash. Life changes and subjective stress factors such as job, money and interpersonal pressures link to accident risk. Driving conditions can also contribute to stress.
Some years ago, results of health surveys indicated taxi drivers in New York City developed comparatively more ulcers than any other (occupational) group. The encouraging note is: Prediction is the first step in prevention. Awareness of how stress affects driving and how factors associated with driving may add to stress can help us steer clear of avoidable health and safety hazards.
First, if you must drive when you’re upset, simply realizing that your emotional state can have an impact on your driving may reduce the risk if it prompts you to be more aware of how you’re functioning. Authorities also remind us that reducing stress in one area increases our chances of coping more effectively with remaining pressures. To make driving more of a pleasure and less of a pressure:
Fix Your Schedule
Arrange your schedule to minimize driving during peak traffic periods. Bumper-to-bumper traffic adds the injury of air pollutants to the insult of taking twice as long to go half as far. Exposure to increased levels of carbon monoxide is undesirable for anyone, and may pose special hazards to those with anemia, asthma and heart and circulatory problems.
When you’re driving, how you sit may be where you hurt. Poor driving posture can give you a pain in the back, head, neck or shoulders or even contribute to developing a bursitis. Make sure your car seat is adjusted to you. A seat too deep for your thigh length can cause pressure behind your knees, impairing circulation. The combination of slumped posture and a sagging seat cushion can give your back case for complaint. One possible solution experts offer is to sit on a piece of plywood covered with a pad. Your car seat should be far enough forward so you don’t have to stretch your feet straight out to reach the pedals.
Even if you sit properly, holding muscles in fixed positions for long intervals is apt to lead to pain and strain. It is advisable to get out of the car every forty or fifty miles on long trips to walk around and loosen up. Shrug your shoulders and rotate your head to exercise.
Learn and apply defensive driving. You don’t have to wait to get a ticket to enroll in an online traffic school and take a defensive driving course. A few quick lessons on defensive driving can save you from possible accidents in the future, so investing in learning about it can benefit you.
Remember, you may feel better and live longer if you drive your car without letting it drive you. Keep these tips in mind and apply them to your daily drives, so you’re assured of a ticket-free and accident-free ride each time.