Eugene Herbert, CEO of MasterDrive, emphasises the importance of understanding how your mental state affects your performance behind the wheel. Emotional states can significantly impact reaction time, engagement with other drivers, and decision-making skills, making them as dangerous as fatigue, distractions, and intoxication.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in the USA, up to 80% of drivers in a study admitted to experiencing road rage, aggression, or intense anger while driving. Positive emotions can also affect driving, diverting focus from the road.
Herbert advises drivers to educate themselves on managing intense emotional states while driving. Recognise your emotions before each trip and understand how they may influence your driving. Ask yourself questions like, “Do I take risks in gridlocked traffic when frustrated? Do I become aggressive when someone cuts me off? Does extreme happiness make me more likely to speed?”
With the holidays on our doorstep and increased traffic volumes on our roads, it is crucial that you understand your emotional state before you get into your car to drive somewhere.
Once you understand your emotional responses, implement strategies to manage them:
Manage expectations: Anticipate challenges like load-shedding or malfunctioning traffic lights.
Create calm: Use entertainment, ensure physical comfort, and employ relaxation tools.
Make a commitment: Focus on driving rather than letting emotions take over.
Avoid hype: If certain music or podcasts trigger negative emotions, avoid them.
MasterDrive advocates the slogan ‘Drive nice, it’s contagious.’ Managing emotions on the road is crucial. Ignoring bad driving from others prevents situations from escalating, and being courteous and forgiving has a positive effect on road safety.
Herbert concludes, “Always be aware of your emotions before driving to play your role in creating safer roads in South Africa. ‘Drive nice’ and contribute to a positive driving environment.”