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Emotions and driving: Belmont crash highlights risks

The risks involved with driving while texting or talking on a cell phone and the perils of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are well-known to most motorists. Public service announcements and billboards remind drivers about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, while numerous news stories demonstrate the sometimes heartbreaking results of engaging in these behaviors. A lesser discussed factor in
motor vehicle accidents is the effect of emotions on decisionmaking and driving behavior. A recent event in Belmont demonstrates how a driver’s heightened emotional state can lead to an accident.

Emotional condition of driver noted in recent wreck

On July 17, drivers in Belmont noticed a car being driven recklessly in town. Other motorists stated that the driver was operating her vehicle in the wrong lane at times, according to the local CBS affiliate’s website, At one point, she left the roadway and began passing cars while operating her vehicle on the sidewalk. Eventually, she attempted a wide turn, nearly striking a parked car. As she backed her car away from the parked vehicle, she ran into another vehicle. Fortunately, no one was injured.

A Belmont police captain noted that the driver appeared to be having some sort of emotional crisis. Following officers’ arrival on the scene, the woman was taken to a local hospital for observation.

The dangers of driving while emotional

In the incident described above, neither the driver who caused the accident nor anyone else was hurt by the driver’s actions. However, driving while emotional can have serious consequences. Some people head to their cars when they get upset, with the intention of driving around in order to calm down. However, the ideal mental state for driving is one in which the driver can stay focused on the road, not one in which the driver is upset about something. The California Driver Handbook – Health and Safety, available on the state DMV website, notes that emotions can interfere with the safe driving.

As with anger, extreme sadness can affect how well a person drives. If a motorist’s mind is straying from the task of safely operating his or her car, it is more likely that an accident will occur. When a person is feeling very emotional, that individual can experience impaired observation and reaction times, effects similar to those experienced by a driver who has consumed several alcoholic drinks. Drivers who are either very angry or sad can take more chances or engage in riskier behavior, putting themselves and others on the road at risk.

There are steps a driver should take if he or she feels too emotional to drive. If a motorist is feeling exceptionally upset, he or she should ask someone else to drive or take some time to think through their feelings before getting behind of the wheel. A driver should pull over and take deep breaths or, if possible, get out of the car and take a short walk in an attempt to calm his or her nerves.

Fortunately for the woman mentioned above, other motorists on the road with her and the pedestrians nearby, nobody was injured as a result of her erratic driving. However, it is easy to imagine how easily someone could have been hurt or killed in this instance.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you have rights under the law if another driver’s negligence caused the accident. Speaking to a personal injury attorney can help you determine if you are entitled to compensation for the injuries you suffered.

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