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28 Jan 2019
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

How to avoid driving stress

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Feeling anxious at the wheel? Here are some handy tips to keep your cool on the road.

Stress while driving

Do you feel worried every time you drive? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Research shows that almost one in five British drivers experience stress because of driving.

Driving requires full concentration and a level of calm, so combating stress levels on the road is important for your safety, and the safety of other road users. 

Why so stressful?

Unfortunately, many factors influence one’s stress levels. Driving at peak times and in congested areas probably cause the most stress.

The feeling of being stuck in traffic and the inability to do anything – even after the traffic light in front of you changes to green – can hugely elevate your stress levels.

The stress of everyday life, like work or personal problems can often contribute to feeling tense on the road too. 

The effects of stress on people are already well-known. Issues range from making you physically unwell and affecting your emotions, to not being able to concentrate.

But how can you reduce the stresses of driving?

Driver calling for breakdown help

Reducing stress on the road

There are several ways you can reduce stress on your journey.

If you think that you’ll get stuck in traffic, or that you might be late, you may get stressed out. 

Plan your route beforehand, avoid peak times when possible, or even try travelling at slightly different times of the day. 

Leaving 15-20 minutes earlier, or later, can potentially transform your journey depending on where you’re going.

Make sure your satnav is up-to-date too, as certain streets might be closed and check on mobile map apps for any live disruptions. 

You can also use these to explore the location of arrival for parking options.

Read more: The 5 best sat navs on the market

Driving stress

If you’re a nervous driver, try and drive more often. It sounds counterintuitive, but the more you drive, the more comfortable you’ll become. 

Familiarising yourself with your local area will help with the drives you do often, and will hopefully give you the confidence to venture onto busier roads. 

Breaking down in your car can be a stressful situation for drivers. You can reduce the chances of this by making sure your car is serviced regularly, and conducting the proper checks before a lengthy journey.

Having a snack may help too. Some people can become irritable or lack concentration when hungry. Eating fruit or having a cereal bar can keep your mind and stomach at ease. 

Don't drive angry

Avoid driving when exhausted or angry. Powerful emotions and stress don’t mix well. Taking breaks is usually a good way to recharge.   

Read more: How to deal with tailgaters without losing your rag

Are you causing other drivers stress

Even if you’re an experienced driver you should always follow the road laws; staying within the speed limit, obeying road signs and generally being respectful to other drivers. 

Pay attention to other drivers too and don’t get distracted by, say, changing your music. 

On the topic of music, it’s been proved that the music you listen to can make you drive more dangerously. Listening to something soothing can help to keep you calm on the roads.

Be aware of other drivers, sometimes people make mistakes on the road. Don’t allow their mistakes to rile you. Simply drive past safely and remain vigilant. 

Use your horn sparingly. According to rule 112 in the Highway Code, you should only use your horn to alert other vehicles of your presence, or warn of any danger on the road. 

It’s actually illegal to use a horn:

  • On a restricted road, between the times of 11.30 pm and 7.00 am.

  • Or while stationary

Driving stress

What should I do if an aggressive driver confronts me?

We hope that this never happens to you, but if you’re ever confronted by an aggressive driver there are some steps you should follow.

The main thing to remember is to stay calm and get away from the person as soon as possible.

Don’t rise to their anger. You never know, this person might have a weapon or may become suddenly violent. The safest thing is to have no contact with them at all. 

If you have to stop keep your doors locked and the engine running, that way you can move away if a situation arises. 

If you’re followed, try and get to the nearest police station, or a busy garage forecourt - anywhere that there’s plenty of people around. 

Memorise the registration number of the car, its colour, make and model, if you can. That way you can report it to the police as soon as you’re safe.

 
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