Home Society & Culture Driving Anxiety: Expert Shares How to Stay Calm in the Most Stressful Driving Regions

Driving Anxiety: Expert Shares How to Stay Calm in the Most Stressful Driving Regions

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ICE HeadShop reveals that the most stressed drivers are from Luton. The city ranks highly with a stressed driver score of 91.6/100, with 916 accidents reported. With a major airport, a high population, and a 42% pass rate for driving tests, it’s no surprise that Luton tops the list of stressed-out drivers.

Ranking second is Birmingham, with a stressed driver score of 89.7/100. Birmingham’s local police force, West Midlands Police, saw the second highest number of road rage-related crimes in the UK – second only to Kent. Birmingham also has the highest number of accident hotspots in the UK, with 245 reported over the period analysed.

In third place is Cambridge, with a stressed driver score of 88.8/100. Cambridge has many accidents per 100,000 drivers (1081) but is home to the most accidents at a roundabout. Following the opening of the UK’s first Dutch roundabout in 2020 in Cambridge, residents have called the area an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

James Roy, technical director at Brainworks Neurotherapy, commented on the impact of our emotions whilst driving: “When we’re driving after a long day, and concentrating on the road, our brain’s default mode network (DMN) becomes active, the emotional control of our frontal lobes begin to relax, and our underlying feelings come closer to the surface. If those feelings include anger, we will let it loose with the least bit of justification.

“Feeling an emotion is different than acting on it, and being aware of your emotions as they arise helps more control over them. A short drive is a perfect time for breathing exercises, a sure emotional smoother, but driving while stressed can be dangerous. Our decision-making, forward planning and awareness are all compromised; our focus suffers and our speed increases.”

Anger triggers the body’s stress response, often known as “fight or flight” when triggered hormones are released that increase heart rate, muscle tensing and faster breathing, which could be deemed unsafe. But how can we manage stress effectively while driving? 

Anti-road rage techniques

Set yourself up for the day

Before leaving for your location, make sure you have your directions memorised; doing so will cut down time setting up a navigation system and reduce the likelihood of being tempted to use a phone.

Always check the estimated travel time and factor in extra time for traffic and detours because being late raises the stress hormone. Building confidence to drive and familiarise yourself with different and potential scenarios can help to reduce road rage, according to Zoe Clews, founder and hypnotherapist of Zoe Clews & Associate

Identify triggers

Understanding your stress and road rage triggers is essential to avoiding such negative emotions. Once the problem has been resolved, you may prevent stressful circumstances from occurring. 59% of participants reported that they are more likely to experience road rage in the morning, which is frequently caused by rush hour traffic, to arrive at work on time. The likelihood of road rage may be decreased by leaving earlier or planning a better route.

Destress while driving

Deep breathing is one of many stress-relieving strategies used while driving to control your temper. To relax and calm the body, inhale for three counts, hold your breath for three counts, and then exhale for three counts. Distractions when driving are typically undesirable, but when it comes to rage, they might be beneficial, whether through music, audiobooks, or a podcast.

A playlist is also the best part of a trip; therefore, making a selection of calming songs you can listen to while driving can help you stay focused and relaxed.

To ensure a safer driving journey, Zoe Clews, founder and hypnotherapist of Zoe Clews & Associate commented: “Don’t drive while experiencing intense emotion or feeling highly triggered if you’re already feeling stressed, upset or angry; avoid non-essential travel altogether. Wait until you have calmed down and back in your ‘window of tolerance’ (the psychological space in which we feel cool, calm, collected, easy and connected) or at least ‘closer to it’, before setting off.” 

Address anger issues

It is critical to address the root cause of rage, not only for other drivers but also for yourself and any other passengers. Utilising a therapist may be beneficial to get rid of the sense of anger and frustration.

Letting go of some personal difficulties may reduce the possibility of tension, making driving safer and more enjoyable. Try yoga, meditation, exercise, walking, counselling, or overly relaxing to deal with these sensations. 

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