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Home / Driving Information / Being Fit to Drive

Are You Fit to Drive?

Driving a piece of heavy machinery demands constant attention, good judgment, and a positive attitude. Unfortunately, not every driver pays careful attention, some don’t use sound judgment and many of us drive when we aren’t in a great mood.

Too often people think drinking and getting behind the wheel is the only type of impaired driving. In actuality, impairment comes in many forms, and there are a lot of different factors that can lead to unfit driving.

Health and Emotional State

Your current health or emotional state is highly influential when you’re driving. Some health conditions like poor vision can be a problem at any time if glasses or corrective lenses aren’t worn. Other conditions like heart problems can come on suddenly and lead to a serious accident. Even an everyday prescription medication can affect your ability to drive.

Always check the label of prescription medications for warnings before driving. You should also discuss your health condition with a physician and follow his or her advice when you get behind the wheel. If they feel like it isn’t safe to operate a vehicle under certain circumstances then find another licensed driver to be your chauffeur.

Emotional state while driving is equally important since emotions affect every driver and can change from day-to-day or even hour-by-hour. Whether you are calm, nervous, or hot-tempered, your personality also affects the way you drive because personality is connected to your emotional state. Stress, fear, euphoria, and exhaustion commonly affect a person while driving.

A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health found that stress, sadness, and tiredness can significantly impact driving and affect whether drivers followed traffic rules. So no driving if you aren’t in the best emotional state.

Paying Attention Behind the Wheel

Extreme emotions of any kind, whether positive or negative, increase the chance that the driver is not paying close attention to the driving situation and other cars on the road. Unfortunately, there are a lot of distractions fighting for a driver’s attention these days. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has some startling statistics. It’s so bad distracted driving leads to the death of almost nine people every day. That’s over 3,100 deaths a year from distracted driving.

Always give driving your full attention. If there is something else vying for your attention or distracting you it’s better to pull over and focus on one thing at a time.

Risk-Taking and Perception

Even the safest driving involves a certain level of risk. How well you manage that risk depends on a number of factors. As a result of your mood, you may take more driving risks than you normally would when you're calm, relaxed, and alert. Of course, consuming alcohol also increases the chance you’ll take more risks.

Drivers take more risk when they perceive that the danger is low. It’s an issue of perception, not a failure to understand the rules of the road. A rainstorm is a perfect example. You know that you should slow down because the weather isn’t ideal and there’s water on the road, but some people keep driving like it’s a normal day. They don’t perceive the risk as being that much higher when it actually is. 

Road Rage and Anger Management

Anger is a very dangerous emotion on the road. Road rage is when a driver lets their agitation affect how they drive in negative ways and can even lead to violence. Typically, the road rage driver is more aggressive, increasing the risk of causing an accident. Aggressive driving is defined as any behavior that endangers property or people.

All drivers must practice anger management on the road. Not only can you get ticketed for it, but it puts people’s lives in danger. The number one thing to watch out for is speeding. When drivers get heated they tend to go faster.

Traffic Safety and Alcohol

Don't endanger yourself and others on the road by driving under the influence. According to NHTSA statistics over a quarter of traffic-related deaths are directly linked to drunk driving. It amounts to about 30 deaths a day as well as 800 injuries.

Every driver should learn about:

  • BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
  • Testing for drugs and alcohol
  • Implied Consent Law
  • Zero Tolerance Law for minors (In effect in most of the states.)

Driving under the influence (DUI) includes more than just alcohol. Driving shortly after taking illicit drugs or prescription drugs can also count as a DUI. Even drowsy driving can be just as bad as impaired driving so never drive unless you are completely sober and alert.