Drivers Fact Sheets

Stress And Distractions

Stress

78% of drivers say they often feel stressed, angry or excited when behind the wheel, but 97% agree it is important to stay calm.

It’s easy to become stressed or distracted while driving, especially if you drive for work on a daily basis. Your mind might wander to other things to do with work or your personal life, or you might be tempted to fiddle with gadgets such as your stereo or mobile phone.

But bear in mind that a few moments’ lapse of concentration can be fatal. As a driver of a vehicle that could kill or injure you or someone else, you have a responsibility to stay focussed on the road at all times – you never know what’s around the corner and you should be prepared. The advice below can help you stay stress-free and focused on the road, and reduce your chances of being involved in a crash.

Potential Sources Of Stress Are

  1. Demands of the job and organisational culture
  2. Lack of control or involvement
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Domestic issues
  5. Tiredness or hours spent driving
  6. External factors, such as congestion or driving of others.

Advice For Staying A Stress-Free Driver

  1. Try to clear your mind of personal or work problems before driving
  2. Focus on the drive ahead and its hazards – be aware that an unexpected hazard could crop up at any moment and if you are not concentrating it could be fatal
  3. Predict and accept things that bother you on the road and make a decision not to let them wind you up
  4. Calm, controlled breathing helps to release muscular tension and relieve stress
  5. Don’t drive if you’re tired and take regular breaks during long journeys to refocus your concentration (the Government advises breaks at least every two hours for fifteen minutes)
  6. Allow plenty of time for your journey – rushing will only increase anxiety
  7. Ensure the driver’s seat and steering column are correctly adjusted for you
  8. Drive at an appropriate speed within the speed limit – driving aggressively, speeding and overtaking are unlikely to get you there much faster, but could prevent you from arriving at all
  9. Don’t go hungry – hunger can affect your concentration
  10. Tell your employer if you think you may be suffering from occupational stress – they will help to try to resolve the problem

Keeping A Healthy Balance

Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle will help you stay stress-free. If you do any of the following regularly, it maybe an indication that you should redress the balance:

  1. Eating on the run
  2. Excessive smoking or drinking
  3. Being in a hurry and trying to do several jobs at once
  4. Missing breaks and taking work home
  5. Having no time for exercise or relaxation

Distraction

 Driving is a job that requires your full attention every time you get behind the wheel. Any secondary activity will detract from your ability to drive properly and safely. You must reduce distractions and focus on your driving.

Distraction that affects driving might result from:

  1. Mobile phone use
  2. In-vehicle technology – using devices such as GPS systems, stereos, CD and DVD players, radios, laptops, PDA’s and MP3 players
  3. Reading maps, directions or other material whilst driving
  4. Eating and drinking whilst driving
  5. Visual distractions outside your vehicle, such as collisions or police activity
  6. Adjusting the controls in your vehicle (radio, CD player, satellite navigation or   climate control)
  7. Talking with passengers
  8. Tending to children or pets
  9. Other drivers and road rage
  10. Thoughts of work or personal life. 83% of drivers think about something other than their driving when behind the wheel (such as home life or work)

Careless driving is a serious offence. Police can charge drivers with careless driving if drivers do not pay full attention to their driving. Remember to focus on your driving at all times. A split-second distraction behind the wheel can result in injury or even death.

Advice On Avoiding Distractions

  1. Switch off your mobile phone while driving and pick up your messages during breaks, even conversations on hands-free phones significantly increase your reaction times
  2. Limit conversations with passengers – don’t get involved in any heated debates
  3. Ensure any children are properly restrained and understand the dangers of distracting the driver – if they are distracting you, pull over somewhere safe to calm them down
  4. Don’t snack, drink or smoke at the wheel – if you need to eat, drink or smoke, take a break
  5. Plan your route before setting off. If you get lost, pull over somewhere safe – never look at a map while driving

Is Stress And Distraction A Problem For You?

It is important to analyse your behaviour and look for specific problems that should be addressed. If as driver, you find yourself responsible for the following, you should consider if stress and/or a poor attitude to driving is a factor:

  1. Aggressive tailgating or cutting in too close in front of another vehicle
  2. Flashing lights or blowing horns at other road users
  3. Speeding and/or dangerous overtaking
  4. Aggressive or rude gestures
  5. Deliberately obstructing other vehicles
  6. Verbal or physical abuse

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