Don’t get stressed, stay safe and RoadSmart with IAM

Blog post posted on 08/06/21 |

According to a recent survey there are many reasons to get stressed when driving or riding. As traffic gets heavier with the ease of restrictions what are the things that are getting your blood pressure rising? In this article we address the top 10 and how to avoid them, reduce them or prepare for them.

Tips and Hints by Richard Gladman, Head of Driving & Riding Standards & Product Development for IAM RoadSmart. 

No1. The return of the traffic jam according to our poll is the top reason with 42% of people finding it stressful. 

  • There are a couple of things you can do to avoid a jam.
    • Change your routine. Do you need to travel at the same time as everyone else?
    • Could you split your workday up? Work from home for the first few hours and wait for the traffic to subside and then set off?
    • What about setting off earlier? If your journey takes 60 minutes if you leave at 8am, would leaving 30 minutes earlier make a difference? If you start your workday earlier could you leave earlier? If not, could you use that extra 30 minutes you’ve saved riding or driving at lunchtime? Or use it for a walk or other activity before you start your day?
    • By making sure you have plenty of time or extra time that should immediately lower that anxiety rating.
    • Make sure you’re not stressed when you hit that queue. Road rage just doesn’t happen like any state it builds up over time.
    • Stress and mental health problems can also impact or trigger bad or erratic driving behaviours. These apply to both you and others on the road and could include:
      • The behaviour of other drivers
      • Increased workload/the demands of the job
      • Poor work organisation and job/role uncertainty
      • Poor work/life balance
      • Domestic/personal issues.

No2. Getting used to busier roads again is a stress for 33%. 

  • If you’re concerned about your skills being overstretched, then test them out at a quieter time of day. If you remove some of the pressure it will help your confidence levels.
    • Remove the deadline
    • Practice makes perfect. Take time during those quieter periods to go out and refresh your skills. Avoid mornings before 10am. Let the ‘rush hour’ subside and school children get safely into school and the road is yours.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a friend or don’t forget us.

No3. People returning to the road who might be out of practice accounts for 27%

  • Remember you are not the only one who drives or rides and it’s good to share. We already share the road with pedestrians, cyclists, horses etc.
  • Take extra time if you’re concerned that others will be stressed.
  • Maybe share the load and travel with a work colleague to help ease congestion. Often during ‘snowy’ periods we hear of people doing a relay time drive. The person with the longer journey drives to you and then you drive from there.
  • If you’re worried about a colleague offer to do this so they (as a nervous driver) aren’t on the road.

No4. Stressing to get to your location on time, is a problem for nearly ¼ of those surveyed at 24%

  • If you’ve been brought up to never be late then think again. While lateness is sometimes viewed as disrespectful, how about turning to planning?
  • Better late than never might mean that rather than risking your life you are 5 mins late!
  • Are you one of those people that don’t leave extra time? If the Sat Nav says 55 minutes you expect it to take exactly that or possibly less? Have you allowed for traffic?
  • If you left earlier and allowed 20 minutes spare, you’d probably be in a better frame of mind when you arrived?

No5. 15% of those surveyed said they are not looking forward to long car journeys to destinations. 

  • Unfortunately, the truth is tiredness can kill.
  • The simple rule is don’t drive drowsy – stop at least every 100 miles or two hours of driving BEFORE fatigue sets in.
  • Tiredness isn’t something that suddenly come on, there are several actions you can try to keep yourself fully focused and aware which include:
  • Winding down the window
  • Turning up the music
  • Stopping to take a quick walk
  • Talking to a passenger
  • Stopping to splash cold water on your face
  • Adjusting the seat so it is uncomfortable
  • Changing lanes more frequently.

However, the most effective countermeasures are:

  • Obtaining adequate sleep (a good night’s sleep) before a journey
  • Taking a nap before a journey
  • Avoiding driving in the early morning or late evening
  • Pulling over to a roadside hotel to sleep
  • Consuming a caffeinated drink and immediately taking a 15 - 20-minute nap
  • Sharing the drive, splitting the journey in half (provided the new driver is alert).
  • Avoid travelling after a large meal.

No6. Linked to the long drives, is the concern that places will be closed, there is nowhere to stop for a rest for 12% surveyed. 

  • Planning, preparation, and payoff.
  • Most cafes and service stations are now fully open. The country is getting back to normal.
  • Without repeating the point, if in doubt, check it out before you leave home and refer to the above. Share the driving, plan ahead, make sure you’ve had plenty of rest, and if possible, avoid the rush-hour.

No7. Commuting is never fun and 11% of those surveyed have concerns

  • Do you need to travel in rush-hour?
  • Covid-19 has proved that we can all work from home unless you are a key worker.
  • Consider your fellow travellers. If you don’t have to boost the vehicles in the rush-hour maybe don’t. While not everyone can work from home or avoid rush-hour if you can maybe do?
  • Again, think about leaving earlier if possible or use different routes and methods.
  • Ask for help if you need it. The last 15+ months has taught us what’s important? Don’t suffer in silence.

No8. My general fatigue while driving is affecting 11%.

  • The solution again, is above, plenty of rest and planning.
  • Ensure you are in the best of health and mindset when you are behind the wheel.
  • Being alert and rested will help you be more observant.
  • If it helps run through the below checks to make sure your vehicle is ready.
  • At times running through a list calms our brain. It can distract us from the worry and reassure us ‘we are ready’.
  • Run through the checks to ensure you are ‘fit to drive’.
  • If we get into the practice of assessing ourselves and recognising if we're feeling stressed or not on top of our game - and not get behind the wheel if we are concerned.
  • IAM RoadSmart’s ‘POWDERY’ checks are a good starting point for any journey:
    • P: Petrol
    • O: Oil
    • W: Water
    • D: Damage
    • E: Electrics
    • R: Rubber
    • Y: You. Are you fit to drive?

No9. Returning to the road when you are out of practice is relevant to 11% of respondents.

  • You could book a refresher course or take an Advanced Driver or Rider Assessment. These are designed to build confidence and skills. We even have E-Learning sessions if you’re worried about rural driving or speed.
  • Alternatively refer to the points above.
  • Remove the stressful deadline and pick quieter times or go out with a friend.

No10. Finally, the 10th most stressful thing is not knowing if your car is still capable of long journeys which applies to 7%.

  • If in doubt get it checked out by a professional.
  • Even as a novice you can run through our IAM RoadSmart’s ‘POWDERY’ checks. If you’re struggling Google can help.
  • However, if there is any doubt it’s better to get it checked before you start off.
  • It might be cheaper to hire a reliable vehicle than breakdown.
  • What it could cost you in pounds, it will certainly ease the burden on your blood pressure.

Drivers who feel they could benefit from increased driving confidence are able to book a range of courses through IAM RoadSmart. For more information visit our website or email our team