Did You Know Emotional Driving Is Unsafe Driving?
Many couples use Valentine’s Day as a way to express their love for each other and go out to celebrate. Some choose to dine at a fancy restaurant. Others do something adventurous they wouldn’t try at any other time of the year, such as rock climbing or salsa dancing.
But for some couples, the Valentine’s Day pressure is too much, and they break up. If this happens to you, please remember: emotional driving is unsafe driving. We’ll show you why.
Valentine’s Day Breakups Are a Fact
There have been several studies done on Valentine’s Day breakups. A graph created by David McCandless and Lee Byron indicates that Valentine’s breakups are more common. While the numbers spike around Christmas too, people tend to start breaking up on or near Valentine’s Day and peak at Spring Break, then the numbers dwindle from April through to November. (Their data was taken from relationship status changes made on Facebook.)
Data collected by international dating website AnastasiaDate corroborate those numbers. Their numbers showed that one in ten couples breaks up on or around Valentine’s Day, saying that this “expectation holiday” is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Valentine’s Day is a time for people to truly reflect on their relationships. For some, that means celebrating it together and being happy. But for many, it means realizing that they’ve felt unhappy with a certain person, and they want to take a more definite step toward the future.
What Driving Has to Do with It
Maybe the breakup happened at a restaurant, and now the “dumpee” has to drive himself or herself home. Or maybe the breakup happened weeks ago, and the person who was dumped just wants to get takeout for his or her single Valentine’s Day dinner. Whatever the reason, people who have just ended a relationship still have to get in their cars and drive at some point. And this can be especially dangerous.
It’s called emotional driving. Virginia Tech preformed a study just last year around Valentine’s Day that showed that people who drive while sad are nearly ten times more likely to get into a car accident than those who drive while tired, or even those who drive while using a cellphone.
The reason? Simple: it’s a form of distracted driving. People become so focused on their emotions that they don’t pay as much attention to the road and those around them. And, if a person is crying, her vision may even be impaired because she can’t see as well.
But danger doesn’t just surround negative emotions. People who feel very happy may be prone to emotional driving as well. According to the DMV, it can be even harder to drive when feeling positive emotions than negative ones! Again, people can be so happy on Cloud 9 that they don’t want to come down and focus on what’s going on right in front of them. This is another phenomenon that can be seen around Valentine’s Day, when people are feeling particularly in love or when a major milestone just occurred, like a marriage proposal.
For these reasons, it’s very important that you take your emotional temperature before getting behind the wheel and driving.
Taking Your Emotional Temperature
The first thing to do is imagine a scale from 0 to 100 in your mind. The 0 would indicate that you are relaxed and calm, and not feeling emotional one way or another. The 100 would indicate that you are highly emotional, for example, after a very traumatic event like a car accident. While breakups may not register 100 on the scale, they may register as 50 or 60, and that indicates you’re not yet safe to drive.
There may be external factors, as well. If for instance, a waitress at the restaurant where your breakup occurred asked you to keep your voice down, that would be a sign that you are very emotional and acting in a manner that you normally wouldn’t.
If, after taking your emotional temperature, you decide that it’s not yet safe for you to drive, here are some calming techniques:
- Take a walk before getting behind the wheel. Not only can light exercise release endorphins that will make you feel better about the situation, but it will also release energy, meaning that there will be less directed towards your current situation.
- Sit down and take a deep chest breath for about six seconds, not doing or saying anything until you are finished. If you feel calmer after taking the breath, you may be ready to drive. If not, take another deep breath and repeat until you begin to feel better.
If you’re very upset, as many people are after a bad breakup, call a friend and ask if he or she would mind driving you home. Not only will this keep everyone on the road safer, but it can also help you by talking over the situation with your friend.
No one wants to think about breaking up with a significant other on Valentine’s Day, but it does happen. When it does, remember that even though it may be difficult to see now, it was probably for the best. So keep calm, check your emotional temperature before driving, and keep moving forward!
Legal questions about other types of distracted driving? Feel free to call The Husband and Wife Law Team at (602) 267-1280. Happy Valentine’s Day!