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There are many ways drivers become distracted behind the wheel. Texting, eating and applying makeup can all increase a person’s likelihood of being in a car crash. However, there is another factor that also causes drivers to become distracted: driving while emotional.

Research shows driving while incredibly angry, sad or even happy can increase a person’s chance of ending up in an accident by 10 times as normal. It is for this reason people should only drive while in a clear state of mind and should pull over if they feel they are a danger to themselves or others.

Any intense emotion is a threat

Most people are familiar with road rage, but there are many other circumstances that can cause a person to keep his or her mind off the road. For example, a person can get into a heated argument with a significant other while driving or receive some distressing news. Many people will speed and pull off dangerous maneuvers when they simply run late to work.

Positive emotions can also be dangerous. Winning a prize or enjoying a work-related success can put a driver’s mind on the joyous occasion rather than on other vehicles.

How to manage emotions

It is vital for drivers to be aware when they should not operate a vehicle. For many people, it helps immensely to simply pull off to the side of the road for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. Some other ways to avoid some potentially harmful situations is to:

  • Avoid slamming on the horn when other drivers do something wrong
  • Avoid confrontations with angry drivers by not making eye contact
  • Play soothing music to calm down
  • Get far away from other drivers who want confrontation

There are many negative consequences to driving in a poor emotional state, such as being unable to stay in the lane or tailgating. Next time you are feeling intense emotion, think twice before hitting the road.