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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Danger of driving under stress

Stress is an almost everyday condition. Getting some rest sometimes helps. But people under stress can pose a risk, to themselves as well as to others.
This is especially true when adrenalin is surging through their body, their heart rate is high and they are sitting at the wheel of a car.
Stressed drivers on their way to a pressing appointment are quick to get angry at slower motorists and other obstacles. Their ability to concentrate is also diminished.
"Failure in processing information causes more than 50% of all traffic accidents," noted Ulrich Chiellino, a traffic psychologist with the German motorists’ association ADAC.
It is easy to understand how stress arises. Alfred Fuhr, a traffic sociologist with the German automobile club AvD said: "Stress arises when you’re confronted with an inescapable event over which you’ve no control."
That event can be a deadline – something not confined to the workplace. Hurrying under time pressure can cause carelessness that leads to driving errors and then accidents.
"Careless mistakes made while driving can be fatal," Fuhr warned.
Stress not only diminishes the ability to concentrate, it can also make drivers irritable and induce them to take greater risks.
Stress is preventable in many cases. It is helpful if the driver recognises that he or she is stressed.
Instead of telling yourself that you can somehow reach a destination in a certain amount of time, you should allow yourself extra time so that even a traffic jam cannot make you late and cause stress.
Chiellino recommended that motorists learn proper behaviour in stress situations, starting with the recognition that stress affects driving and can lead to dangerous errors in judgement.
"Many drivers see themselves as victims, saying the traffic stresses them," noted Chiellino.
Other motorists are not deliberately driving slowly in order to impede the stressed motorist. Perhaps, they also suffer from stress but have learned that stepping on the petrol pedal is unhelpful. – dpa

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