Maintaining emotional composure is paramount when navigating the roads. Driving with heightened emotions can be as perilous as texting while driving.

Despite our diverse backgrounds and beliefs, the universal human experience involves emotions that significantly influence our daily lives.

This article explores the impact of emotional health on driving behavior and provides strategies for mastering emotional control to ensure safer driving.

Effective management of emotions

Research indicates that driving under emotional stress is comparable to driving fatigued. This section delves into the connection between mental health and driving behavior, emphasising the importance of emotional regulation in preventing hazardous outcomes.

The consequences of unchecked emotions while driving:

  • Tunnel vision – Heightened emotions can result in impaired peripheral vision and depth perception, compromising a driver’s awareness of their surroundings.
  • Delayed observation and reactions – Defensive driving requires quick, safe decisions. Emotional distractions can diminish precision and hinder swift reactions, affecting overall driving skills.
  • Inability to anticipate risks – Distractions may lead to a failure to identify hazards or make risky decisions such as speeding, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Road rage – Intense emotions can trigger aggressive behavior, potentially leading to reckless driving and road rage incidents.

Maintain emotional balance while driving

Below are some strategies to help drivers maintain emotional balance while driving:

  • Create a soothing soundtrack – Play calming music, lighthearted podcasts, or your favorite radio station to shift focus away from stressful thoughts.
  • Practice mindful breathing – Combat anxiety with deliberate exhales and gentle inhalations, promoting relaxation. Breathing from the diaphragm can further alleviate tension.
  • Engage your senses – Bring along an ice-cold drink and flavorful treats to heighten your senses and regain focus during the drive.
  • Cultivate courtesy – Avoid erratic driving behaviors, such as high-speed overtaking and aggressive lane changes, recognising that a few saved seconds are not worth compromising safety.
  • Perspective matters – Resist getting agitated by the inconsiderate driving of others. Prioritising your safety over minor inconveniences is paramount.
  • Take a break – If too much is on your mind, take a break. Get off the road and try to work through the issues before you get back on the road again, especially if you are tired.

Supporting the wellbeing of drivers

Fleet managers play a pivotal role in boosting driver wellbeing. Strategies include:

  • Emotional intelligence training – Equip drivers with tools for recognising and managing emotions.
  • Regular check-ins – Establish open communication channels, creating a supportive environment.
  • Stress management workshops – Organise workshops for on-the-road stress techniques like mindfulness.
  • Technology solutions – Implement fatigue detection systems and sensors for monitoring wellbeing.
  • Incentive programs – Develop reward systems, encouraging safe driving practices and emotional resilience.
  • Access to support resources – Provide confidential mental health resources for personal challenges.
  • Flexible schedules – Allow scheduling flexibility for managing workloads and personal commitments.
  • Positive company culture – Foster positivity through recognition, teamwork and prompt issue resolution.
  • Driver feedback mechanism – Establish a system for drivers to share experiences and suggest improvements.
  • Education for managers – Train managers to recognise signs of emotional distress, enabling timely intervention and support.

Reduce the risk of emotional driving

The Cardinus online driver training program, Healthy Working: Safe Driving includes a wellbeing module. This module helps drivers to understand  how their wellbeing affects the quality of their driving and what to do if they feel unwell while travelling. It also includes stress management techniques to help drivers reduce stress levels before and during their journey.  To request a free trial of Healthy Working: Safe Driving, please get in touch.

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