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Road safety Week 2019: How to best handle stress when driving

Road safety Week 2019: How to best handle stress when driving

Stresses from home life or work can easily take over when you're at the wheel, stressed drivers aren't likely to be good drivers, Vansdirect takes a look at the best ways to cope with stress whilst driving!



Stress can affect emotionally and physically, in conjunction with impairing our reactions and judgement. This is not what you need when getting behind the wheel of a van, to drive at the best of your abilities it is important you are in the right frame of mind before you even enter the van. So if you do happen to feel stressed before you get out on the road in the morning, then check out some of the tips below from road safety charity IAM RoadSmart and automotive industry charity BEN.


Signs of stress

For professional drivers spending most of their days in their new vans, the risks of having an accident as a result of stress increase simply as a result of the number of hours and miles they spend driving. It is important to realise when you are feeling stressed in order to take action, BEN reveals the following symptoms as potential signs of stress:

  • Becoming easily irritated with colleagues, friends or family
  • Feeling distracted, forgetful or moody
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Not being able to 'switch off'
  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn
  • Under or overeating
  • Smoking more, drinking more alcohol or taking drugs
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick
  • Not sleeping well
  • Getting ill more often

What should I do if I feel stressed before driving?

So you now know how to recognise if you feel stressed, which is all well and good, but not hugely useful if you don't know how to manage this stress. BEN have also revealed tips for what you should do if you feel stressed before driving:

  • Go for a short walk to get some fresh air and unwind.
  • Wait until you feel calm and collected before heading out on your journey.
  • Try mindfulness and deep breathing exercises. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • If you're feeling ill from stress with headaches or sickness, make sure you feel well enough to drive.
  • Write down a list of the causes of your stress, this can help you clear your mind.
  • If you're struggling with substance misuse then seek professional help. Be aware that alcohol and other substances can stay in your system for many hours, and still be present the following day
  • If you're having trouble sleeping due to stress then make sure you're not too tired to drive. IAM RoadSmart suggests that if you feel sleepy behind the wheel to find a safe place to pull over and stop. Nearly 20 percent of accidents on major roads are sleep-related, and about 40 percent of sleep related accidents involve commercial vehicles.
  • Tell someone how you feel. Talking about your problems with loved ones can make a big difference.

If you're unsure on your mood, you can check with the anxiety/stress checker tool on the BEN website.


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