Feeling stressed out when you're behind the wheel can make for a very unpleasant driving experience; it can also affect your ability to concentrate and thus increase the chance of you being involved in a road accident. Read on for some advice on how to have a calmer car journey.
Plan your route and leave early
Few things are more stress-inducing than getting lost when you're on the road. Whilst GPS devices and smartphones have reduced the frequency with which drivers get lost, it's not a good idea to be completely reliant on technology to show you the best route. If your smartphone battery dies or your GPS system malfunctions, you could end up losing your way and missing an important appointment or meeting. If you're going on quite a complicated journey, print off a paper copy of the route to take with you, just in case your GPS system fails. Additionally, consider planning a second, alternative route, so that if you encounter a problem with the original one (for instance, if there are roadworks taking place on it) you'll still know how to get to your chosen destination.
It's also important to give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go. Being late could make you flustered and distracted, which could, in turn, impact your ability to drive safely; you may end up speeding, which is not only dangerous but may also result in you being pulled over and fined by the police. Getting into an accident or receiving a fine will almost certainly make your car journey a lot more stressful than it needs to be. Giving yourself an extra thirty minutes or so will mean that if delays occur, because of a traffic jam, construction work or poor weather conditions, you should still be able to reach your destination calmly and safely.
Prepare for the worst
Aside from an accident, a breakdown is perhaps one of the most stressful events a driver can experience. Finding oneself stranded with a flat tyre, no spare and a phone that hasn't been charged would upset even the most placid of people.
Fortunately, a lot of the elements that make a breakdown upsetting can be avoided, with just a little bit of preparation. Making sure that you have all of the essential items that you need in order to cope with this situation can make the experience far less stressful.
There are plenty of things that you can include in a roadside emergency kit; however, some of the most important products you should keep in it are jumper cables (to jump-start a dead car battery), a fluorescent warning triangle (to alert other road users to your presence after dark), waterproof clothing and a foil blanket (to reduce the likelihood of you developing hypothermia if the temperature drops) and a supply of water and food. It's also a good idea to keep a spare, fully-charged mobile phone and the number of a towing service company in your boot. Lastly, you may want to store a reflective jacket and a comfortable pair of walking shoes in the car, in case you need to walk a long distance to reach a garage.