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Effects of Emotions on Driving Essay

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There are reported cases of vehicular accidents every year in the United States. Even though drivers are aware that drinking and using cellular phones while driving are dangerous, they overlook other factors that might contribute to accidents such as physical condition and emotion. Emotions, along with personality types, video games and gender differences, determine driving behavior. Emotions can be a positive force in determining driving behavior. For instance, a person can be motivated to drive safely by his love for his family.

Moreover, if he fears any legal consequences or accidents, it might restrict him from reckless driving. On the other hand, if a person has emotional problems, this can possibly lead to collision. Some may think that emotions may have little effect on one’s driving. But according to researches, any kind of emotion has negative impacts on driving, which can cause impairments that the driver is not fully aware of. A person who is frightened, depressed, upset or excited while driving may be in the same danger as someone who is engaged in a phone call or is drunk (DMV, 2008).

There are also cases when a person has to drive after attending to an emergency or after learning of a loved one’s sickness or death. To avoid accidents, it is advisable that the driver pause a while to get his bearings straight before getting behind the wheel. Research about causes of vehicular accidents showed that those who are experiencing negative and even positive emotions were at a distraction level more serious than those who were engaged in a phone call. These emotions can affect even excellent drivers in many ways.

First is that they might experience “dimmed or impaired observation and reaction times” (DMV, 2008). Second, drivers might not see debris in the road or might not recognize situations such as slowing of traffic, which can result to hitting other cars in the way. Third, drivers might not recognize what is happening around them (Connolly, 2007). For instance, they might not recognize that a car ahead is turning around or is about to cross. Fourth, emotions might cause drivers to make risky changes such as abrupt change of lanes.

Fifth, they might feel as if they were detached from their surroundings (DMV, 2008). There might be some cases wherein a person is involved in a road rage. Road rage has become too common these days. It is responsible for many cases of bodily injuries and accidents on the road. These accidents can be attributed to the fact that some drivers overreact and personalize driving situations. Researches about road rage showed that more than half of all the drivers in America can express road rage themselves, or they can be a victim of another driver’s road rage. Moreover, the U. S.

Highway Safety Office declares that the many cases of accidents on the road are connected to road rage or aggressive driving, as such, road rage is now the primary cause of death (DMV, 2008). The personality type of a person can also determine his driving behavior. Personality type is categorized into Type A and Type B. Type A is those that are impatient, aggressive and hostile while Type B is those calm individuals (Sedona. com, 2007). One of the traits common in the abusive personality or Type A individuals is recklessness in driving. Drivers categorized as Type A are always in need of power and control.

This might be an explanation for engaging in road rage situations. Emotions’ effects on driving can be further explained by what is going on in the parts of the brain involved. Emotions have effects on the part of the brain responsible for reason, thought and judgment. These brain parts mature when a person reaches 25 years of age. Thus, drivers below 25 years old, especially teenagers, are at risk of accidents (Davis, 2005). The parts of the brain related to emotion and decision-making of the teens are still developing. As their brain develops, teens are susceptible to risky behavior such as driving too fast.

Brain immaturity is responsible for the high number of teen crash rate today. Recent brain researches of the National Institute of Health (NIH) have come out and shown that young drivers are at risk of accidents because the “executive branch” of the teen’s brain that is largely responsible for weighing risks, making judgments and controlling impulsive behavior is not yet developed. Results have shown that a “16-year-old’s brain is far less developed” (Davis, 2005) than those teens who are a bit older. This explains why there are more 16-year-old drivers who are at a higher risk of crashing than those older teens.

In fact, a recorded number of 937 drivers who are 16 years of age were involved in fatal crashes in 2003. Almost half of those drivers and 352 of their passengers were killed. Thus, young teenagers need supervision because they are too young to drive. Another factor that psychologists and doctors looked into to explain the many cases of teen crashes is the video games. Video games on racing feature realistic driving environments wherein players must race through city and traffic (Wood, 2007). Several studies were conducted to determine the relationship between video games and driving.

One such study was conducted by Douglas Gentile and Craig Anderson, both psychologists. Video games are interactive and engaging. Plus, violent behavior in video games is rewarded. Thus, teens and even adults tend to repeat these behaviors as they play. Gentile and Anderson indicated that for these reasons, violent video games may have stronger effects on aggression. The results have also shown that video game is directly related to having aggressive thoughts and behavior (cited in American Psychological Association, 2004). Another study by German researchers has also shown that video games affect those who play them.

The researchers stated that the video games exhibit “competitive and reckless driving, speeding and crashing into cars or pedestrians, or performing risky stunts” (cited in Wood, 2007). This means that the actions in video games can result to accidents or crashes in a realistic racing environment. The researchers chose 198 men and women to participate in the study. Results showed that those who play more often were likely to engage in risky and aggressive driving and getting into car accidents while those who played less often were more cautious in driving (Wood, 2007).

Studies were done to determine the difference between male and female when it comes to driving. Men are more aggressive than women, as is explained by testosterone, the male sex hormone responsible for aggressiveness in men. Most people want to know if men tend to be aggressive compared to women when driving, as such, a study showed a situation wherein a male driver became upset when another driver cut in front of him. He followed the car until he found out that the driver was a female. He was shocked because the female driver drove violently, when in the society women are not depicted to drive aggressively.

If the other driver was not female, would the driver’s behavior of following the car be justified? Just from observation alone, we see how men and women differ in emotional behavior when driving. Men will likely criticize another driver, making sure that the other driver can hear him. Women, on the other hand, will likely criticize other drivers to themselves because they fear retaliation. There are also instances when emotional behaviors get in the way of safe driving. For instance, a girl asked her boyfriend to drive her home, but the boyfriend got upset.

At 60mph, he sped around corners where the speed limit was 25mph. The boyfriend’s want for being in control forced his girlfriend to comply with his emotions. Anger sometimes gets the best of drivers. It results to behavior that is destructive for both the driver and the passenger (Lucey, n. d. ). Emotions affect driving. When a person is elated, frightened, worried or depressed, he or she might not be able to perform well in driving. Aside from emotions, other factors that can affect driving are personality types, video game influences and gender differences.

References

American Psychological Association.(2004, June 8). Violent video games – Psychologists help protect children from harmful effects. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www. psychologymatters. org/videogames. html Connolly, A. (2007). How to control your emotions on the road. Associated Content. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/157425/how_to_control_your_emotions_on_the. html Davis, R. (2005). 16, Is it too young to drive a car? USA Today. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www. usatoday. com/educate/college/firstyear/articles/20050306. htm DMV. (2008). How emotions affect driving.

Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www. dmv. org/how-to-guides/driving-and-emotions. php Lucey, C. (n. d. ). Gender differences in driving norms. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www. soc. hawaii. edu/leonj/459ss97/clucey/report2. html#2 Sedona. com. (2007). Type A personality, Type B personality: How much are we really controlled by “personality types”? Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://www. sedona. com/lp-typeA. aspx Wood, J. (2007). Video racing games may spur risky driving: study. Soft32. com. Retrieved December 1, 2008, from http://news. soft32. com/video-racing-games-may-spur-risky-driving-study_3722. html

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