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Driven to Distraction Campaign with 1st CENTRAL
Added: 4th Nov 2019

SANE has partnered with car insurance provider 1st CENTRAL to raise awareness of the potential dangers of driving while feeling anxious. Recent research commissioned by 1st CENTRAL found that as many as two in five (42 per cent) motorists have felt anxious while driving – with nearly 31 per cent saying they had a near miss as a result.

It’s not just drivers who are affected. 37 per cent of respondents claimed to have felt unsafe as a passenger when the driver was feeling anxious.

To help drivers address feelings of anxiety when behind the wheel, and to help improve driver safety, we have developed some practical advice for motorists and passengers alike.

  • The key to road safety is prevention. If you’re experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety which you think might affect your driving, you should take a moment to consider your options. Is your journey really necessary, could you delay it, call a taxi, or take public transport instead?
  • If you feel you are becoming anxious when you are driving, to the point where you feel it’s affecting your concentration, you should pull over at the earliest and safest opportunity.
  • Pay attention to physical symptoms. If you find your heart is racing, or are feeling tense, if you are sweating or experiencing shortness of breath, you should find a safe place to pull over until these feelings pass.
  • Basic breathing exercises and meditation techniques can be helpful before taking a journey, or if you need to stop.
  • There is some evidence that lavender can help reduce blood pressure and heart rate and encourage feelings of calm. If you think you might be prone to anxious moments when driving you could try using such a fragrance in your car.
  • If you enjoy listening to music while driving you should opt for music with a lower tempo, or songs you find calming. Loud or high tempo music should be avoided, as this can be distracting and can increase feelings of anxiety
  • If you have rowdy passengers, you are entitled to ask them to keep the noise down. This can be difficult with young children who can get bored easily, so it is worth planning some structured games or pastimes that can keep them occupied on longer journeys (‘I Spy’ works at a pinch). 
  • Some people find that keeping their car in a clean and tidy state helps create a calm and relaxed atmosphere. A car interior that is free from distraction can help the driver maintain their focus on the road.
  • If you’re a passenger in the vehicle and you feel unsafe because the driver is anxious, you could suggest stopping for a toilet break or for a soft drink. Try to avoid being confrontational.

Anxiety is something that affects everyone. When driving, these feelings can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Taking a brief moment to assess how you feel before embarking upon a journey should be a fundamental part of being a responsible and considerate driver. We hope this campaign can encourage people to think about how to reduce their own feelings of anxiety, and become better and safer drivers.

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