Why Driving While Angry or Sad Is a Dangerous Crash Risk

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on November 8, 2023  in Car Accident News. Updated on November 28, 2023

upset male driver on a rainy nightHave you ever found yourself behind the wheel, grappling with feelings of overwhelming anger or sadness? Perhaps you had an argument with a family member or had a tough day at work. Maybe your partner ended a long-term relationship or you lost someone close to you in a terrible accident. Whatever the cause, it is important to recognize how driving while angry or sad can significantly impact your ability to drive safely.

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are here to help if you get injured by a driver who caused a crash while operating a vehicle in a state of high emotion. If you are unsure if you may have a valid case, you can request a free consultation with our firm to discuss your situation. Our vehicle crash attorneys in New Jersey have extensive experience – we manage cases like these every day. We also have a history of proven results, recovering millions* on behalf of our clients.

This article explains more about the dangers of driving while feeling emotional extremes, such as rage, sadness and even exhilaration over something exciting can be a dangerous driving distraction. We also discuss why you do not want to put yourself at risk as a driver or potentially cause harm to others sharing the road.

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How Do Strong Emotions Impact Our Ability to Drive Safely?

Strong emotions such as anger or sadness greatly impede our ability to think and focus while we are driving. Multiple studies, including one done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, show that driving while emotionally upset affects drivers in multiple ways. Drivers may experience temporary road blindness or tunnel vision, even completely zoning out to the point they do not “see” critical things that affect road safety.

Some common examples include:

  • Not remembering to check for traffic while changing lanes
  • Failing to see a car in front of you slam on their brakes
  • Missing red lights, stop signs and other traffic signals
  • Neglecting to stop at designated crossing areas for pedestrians

Other ways individuals may react to driving while angry or sad include:

  • Being more reckless by excessively speeding
  • Aggressively tailgating or following other vehicles too closely
  • Overreacting to other drivers, such as someone who they feel is going too slow
  • Brake-checking other drivers who are tailgating them
  • Taking dangerous chances, such as by cutting off other vehicles

What If I Feel Angry or Upset While Driving to Work or Somewhere Else?

The best decision is to not get behind the wheel at all while you are feeling anger, extreme sadness or just feeling exhilarated about something. You can always call your employer to tell them you are running late or reschedule an appointment.

The bottom line is that as a driver, you have a legal responsibility to other drivers, pedestrians and anyone else sharing the road. This legal duty requires you to take reasonable steps to avoid putting others in harm’s way. It also means not doing certain things or taking actions that could put yourself or others in danger, such as getting behind the wheel while in a rage.

If you get upset by something while you are driving, it is a good idea to find a safe place, such as a gas station or parking lot, where you can pull over for a few minutes. Taking a few minutes to calm down and gather your thoughts before you get back on the road is wise and can help you avoid being injured in a crash.

Specific things you can do to help calm down include:

  • Playing calming music
  • Taking some deep breaths
  • Avoiding conversations that will upset you further
  • Reminding yourself of your responsibility as a driver
  • Not making gestures or act in a way you could later regret
  • Avoiding eye contact with others while angry or upset
  • Not confronting others while in a state of anger

Self-awareness is vital as a driver. In other words, it is important to recognize your unique emotional trigger and practice mindfulness before getting behind the wheel. If you frequently struggle with anger or other strong emotions, seeking professional help could significantly help.

Are there legal consequences to consider when emotions lead to an accident?

Absolutely. If someone drives while angry or sad and that leads to a crash that causes you to get injured, he or she could face significant legal ramifications for that negligence.

To start with, the driver could be held liable for the crash and your medical costs, lost wages and other damages. They may also face other legal consequences, including fines and the loss of their license.

In short, being mindful of your emotional well-being is essential for your health. It also has a vital impact on your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Injured in a Collision Caused by an Emotionally Upset Driver?

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are here to provide legal help to victims injured by the negligence of others. Not sure if your case has any merit? Many people have some of the same questions. We help to provide the answers you need in a free legal consultation.

We have staff available to take your call 24/7. There is no cost or obligation for this meeting. If you have a case and choose our firm to represent you, there are also no upfront costs to pay. You only pay our fee if we win you compensation through a settlement or jury-awarded verdict.

Request your FREE case review today. (800) 518-0508.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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