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Tips for Staying Calm and Relaxed Behind the Wheel

Posted in Car Accident on March 20, 2019

There are many important things drivers should focus on when they get behind the wheel to protect themselves, their loved ones, and other drivers. Safe driving habits like obeying the speed limit, not driving while impaired, and reducing distractions are all essential for avoiding accidents. However, there’s one key trait that’s often overlooked when it comes to staying safe on Nashville’s roadways: remaining calm.

Drivers who let their emotions get the better of them are more likely to lose control of their vehicles or be involved in accidents. Whether it’s anger, stress, or panic, negative emotions can affect reaction times, judgment, and the ability to track the movements of other vehicles. Driving with a clear mind and in a good emotional state is important, but it’s often easier said than done—especially if you’re used to commuting during rush hour traffic.

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind the next time you head out on Nashville’s busy and hectic roadways:

  • Never provoke or respond to emotional drivers—Aggressive drivers can be encountered anywhere, but they’re most likely to make their presence known in heavy traffic. If you encounter one, the best course of action is to not respond to anything he or she does. Behaviors such as tailgating, lane splitting, passing where prohibited, speeding, and blocking lanes are all signs of an emotional driver. Avoiding eye contact, honking your horn, or retaliating towards an aggressive driver can help de-escalate the situation and reduce the risks of a road rage-related accident.
  • Take back roads or alternate routes to avoid heavy traffic—Bumper to bumper gridlock is a major stressor. In fact, it’s even linked to health problems like cardiovascular disease in drivers who experience it on a regular basis. People who are regularly stuck in long traffic jams and slowdowns are more likely to become angry and make poor decisions behind the wheel. Taking alternate routes to work, school, or other destinations can help you stay in a better frame of mind, even if they aren’t as fast or direct as other, more trafficked routes.
  • Prepare for the unexpected—It’s easy to fall into a routine when driving, especially when you commute for work. But you should never take your safety nor the act of driving for granted. Driving is a highly complex task that requires fast reaction times, good judgment, and the ability to constantly track the speed and direction of moving objects. And that’s not all, as other drivers can engage in negligent behaviors that can increase the risk of crashes, especially when other drivers aren’t prepared for them. Driving with a defensive mindset and preparing for the worst can help you stay ahead of trouble.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination—Everyone knows the feeling of running late. It may feel like every driver in the city is conspiring against you when you start off your day on the wrong foot, and any delay can set off a cascade of stress responses and anger. But even the slowest traffic can seem more manageable when you aren’t in any danger of being late to work or an appointment. Leaving early gives you a time cushion that reduces stress and makes you much less likely to take risks behind the wheel.
  • Practice driving in stressful situations—Driving in rain, snow, ice, fog, or even just at night can be nerve-wracking for many people. But many driving safety experts and instructors recommend “facing your fears” whenever possible to become more adept at driving in situations and scenarios that cause stress and fear. The more practice you get, the better you’ll be able to handle inclement conditions should they catch you by surprise while you’re behind the wheel.
  • Make sure your vehicle is well-maintained and clean on the inside—Driving a potentially unreliable vehicle is a major source of stress for drivers. Not knowing whether your vehicle will make it to your destination when you’re sitting in traffic or commuting on a high-speed highway or interstate can often be avoided with routine maintenance. Clearing your vehicle of clutter can also make a difference in your peace of mind. Even small annoyances like items that shift and move or roll around when you turn, accelerate, or brake can be enough to increase stress while driving.
  • Prepare for emergency situations—A big part of being prepared for the unexpected is knowing what to do if disaster strikes. Not having a plan for what you’ll do immediately after an accident, a vehicle breakdown, or sudden and severe inclement weather can leave you feeling like you’re not in control. Save relevant numbers in your phone, including your insurance company, tow truck providers, Tennessee’s HELP line, and highway patrol in case you need to report an accident or get help. Stocking your vehicle with emergency supplies can also provide peace of mind in the event of an emergency.

At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know that stress can lead to road rage and poor decision making. However, drivers are still ultimately responsible for their own actions, regardless of the emotional states they’re in at the time of their accidents. If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident that was caused by an aggressive or reckless driver, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.

Drivers are supposed to uphold safety standards when they get behind the wheel, and road rage-induced accidents are often considered negligence. When we take on your claim, we’ll do everything we can to prove the other driver didn’t uphold his or her responsibilities as a Tennessee driver, and then we’ll fight to get you maximum compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.

Contact us today by dialing (615) 200-1111 or completing an online contact form for a free consultation to find out how we can help.