Sun | Mar 7, 2021

How to control those emotions while driving

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2021 | 12:06 AMPaul Messam - Contributor
Thomas Hall in his Evo, was quick to show that he wasn’t rusty due to driving restrictions caused by COVID.
Thomas Hall in his Evo, was quick to show that he wasn’t rusty due to driving restrictions caused by COVID.

An emotion is a strong feeling. It is a special human quality that can make life interesting and enjoyable, sad or depressing. Strong emotions interfere with reasoning, which is essential for the decision-making part of the driving task. “Strong emotion blocks out or limits a person’s ability to reason,” says psychologist Dr Valerie Freckleton.

“The effects of emotion on driving performance depend on how strongly the emotion grips a person, and on the effort a person makes to resist the effects,” she adds.

According to Dr Freckleton, emotions constantly change; one can be very angry one moment and much less angry a few moments later; and impatience or frustration may be mixed with anger.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in the writings ‘Bring me a unicorn’ says, “it is terribly amusing how many different climates of feeling one can go through in a day.” The defensive driving concept requires total concentration on driving. The event causing the emotion may have nothing to do with driving, but your emotional state affects driving drastically. Emotions such as apathy, sorrow, or depression, tend to lessen mental alertness and distract the driver from performing the driving task well.

A driver may be anxious because of driving in an unfamiliar or difficult driving environment. Or, the driver may feel threatened by traffic. “Therefore, a driver can and must quickly learn emotional control in order to drive safely even under stressful conditions,” advises Dr Hame Persaud.

Techniques for coping with emotions while driving

1. Drive when you are in control of your emotions. Map out your route.

2. Know yourself and be honest about your emotional characteristics.

3. Drive in an organised, orderly manner. Learn and use correct defensive driving procedures until they become habits. A driver will then be more likely to take the proper action even when emotions interfere.

4. Anticipate emotion-producing traffic problems. Mentally prepare to meet them. While driving, you will meet tired drivers in a hurry to get home, some thoughtless and careless, others in a rush for an appointment. But say to yourself, “I will not let them upset me.”

5. Make a self-check. Always remember the old adage, ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’. If a motorist is emotionally upset before entering the vehicle, tell yourself, “I am angry but I will not drive angrily.”