Experts have reported people are more stressed today than they have ever been in the past. Unfortunately, even small stress levels can impact day-to-day activities – including driving.
Combine stress with people spending more time driving, and the result can be devastating.
However, you may wonder, “How does stress impact your driving?” This is a good question. The more you know about yourself and how your stress can affect your actions behind the wheel, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident.
The Relationship Between Stress and Distracted Driving
Did you know stress can contribute to distracted driving?
When you are stressed, your mind is often preoccupied. This reduces your ability to focus on the road. As your thoughts wander to what is causing your stress, your reaction time and decision-making abilities will diminish.
When this happens, the likelihood of you being involved in an accident (and perhaps even causing one) increases significantly.
However, stress can cause other adverse driving behaviors. For example, driving while you are stressed can lead to:
- Reduced Reaction Time: Stress hormones like cortisol can slow down your ability to react quickly to sudden changes on the road, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Impaired Judgment: Stress can cloud your thinking, leading you to make poor decisions such as speeding, tailgating, or changing lanes abruptly.
- Decreased Focus: Stressful thoughts can distract you from driving and make it easier to miss important cues like traffic signals or pedestrians.
- Increased Aggression: Stress can lead to road rage or aggressive driving behaviors, such as honking unnecessarily, overtaking dangerously, or verbally abusing other drivers.
- Physical Symptoms: Stress can manifest physically, causing headaches, muscle tension, or shaking, which can detract from your ability to drive safely.
As you can see, stress’s effect on you clearly impacts your ability to drive safely. If you are involved in a car accident where stress plays a role, it is wise to contact an accident attorney in Port St. Lucie. They can help you understand and protect your rights in this situation.
Understanding these specific impacts can help you manage stress better while driving, potentially avoiding scenarios that require an accident attorney in Port St. Lucie.
Is Stress a Main Contributor to Accidents in Florida?
Stress is not often cited as the cause of accidents in Florida. While true, there are stress-related behaviors that contribute to accidents regularly.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, distracted driving resulted in more than 50,000 crashes in a recent year.
Distracted driving can be visual, manual, auditory, or cognitive. In some situations, what is distracting you can encompass several or all of these. Stress is one of these things. While it occupies your mind, it can also impact other parts of your ability to pay attention to the road.
Florida Laws on Distracted Driving
Florida does not have specific laws on driving while stressed. However, since it is considered a type of distracted driving, knowing the state’s laws is essential.
Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving
In Florida, texting while driving is illegal under the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law. This law prohibits drivers from manually typing or entering letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a mobile device while driving.
The law allows for primary enforcement, which means that law enforcement officers can pull you over and issue a citation for texting while driving without needing another reason for the stop.
Hands-Free Requirement in School and Work Zones
Florida law takes distracted driving seriously in school and construction zones where workers are present. In these areas, drivers must use hands-free devices for all mobile phone usage. Failure to do so can result in points added to your driving record and fines.
Penalties for Distracted Driving
The penalties for distracted driving in Florida can be severe. A first-time texting while driving offense carries a $30 fine, not including court costs and other fees, which can more than double the fine. Subsequent violations within five years can result in a $60 fine and three points added to your driving record.
While proving “stressed driving” caused an accident is challenging, your other actions may lead to charges against you. This is also true if you are hit by someone distracted by stress or another cause.
Understanding Florida’s laws on distracted driving can help you stay in compliance and avoid the unfortunate need for an accident attorney in Port St. Lucie. Remember, your primary focus should be safe driving when you’re behind the wheel.
How to Manage Stress While Driving
If you begin to feel stressed because of the traffic, inconsiderate drivers, or life in general, some tips can help you mitigate the impact it has on your mind, body, and ability to drive safely. These tips include:
- Take Deep Breaths: If you are stressed while driving, simple deep breathing exercises can help calm your nervous system.
- Pull Over Safely: If your stress levels are getting out of control, it’s better to pull over safely and take a few moments to compose yourself.
- Listen to Calming Music: Calming music can help alleviate stress and increase your focus on the road.
When to Consult an Accident Attorney in Port St. Lucie
After an accident, you may be unsure if you need help from an accident attorney. If you have experienced injuries due to a stress or distracted driving accident, it is wise to contact an attorney, regardless of who is at fault.
An accident attorney in Port St. Lucie can help you understand your rights and file a claim on your behalf. They can also review the facts to determine who is liable and negotiate to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Stress and Driving: More of an Impact Than You May Realize
Stress is an overlooked yet critical factor that can significantly affect your driving skills. In Florida, where distracted driving laws are stringent, letting stress take over your driving can endanger your life and land you in legal trouble.
Be aware, stay calm, and remember: safety first. If you face the consequences of a stress-induced accident, don’t hesitate to seek professional legal help from an accident attorney in Port St. Lucie.
At Fetterman Law, we can help with your situation and protect your rights. We understand that stress is a part of life, and we encourage all Port St. Lucie Drivers to stay calm and safe while on the roads.