When you climb into a vehicle, you have a clear plan in mind: you’re going to drive to your destination. The route is mapped out in your mind or GPS, you know roughly how long it’s going to take, and there’s something you need to do or someone you want to see when you arrive.
This focus on the end result of your journey is essential, of course; reaching your destination is literally the entire point of driving. However, when humans focus on something, we have a tendency to let this dominate our thinking. When you step into a car at point A and determine to reach point B, you’re likely to do all you can to complete the journey exactly as you planned.
The downsides of determination
This determination to reach point B, however, can be problematic. It’s this determination that makes people drive when they are too tired to do so. They’re so focused on reaching point B, they overrule the voice in their head that suggests they should pull over and take a nap. It’s not just tiredness that causes people to make bad decisions either. For example, most of us know we shouldn’t drive when we’re upset, anxious, or in a bad mood, but we do it anyway, because we focus on the endpoint that we want to reach. Essentially, we ignore our better judgement and continue to drive in a condition which we know, on some level, isn’t sensible.
This is why it’s vital that drivers learn to heed the warnings that they should stop driving immediately to avoid having to deal with an accident and its aftermath. If you notice any of the below happening, it’s time to pull over:
- You experience disproportionate anger to a minor issue, such as another driver cutting you up. Road rage is extremely dangerous to your ability to drive safely; if you feel the need to shout at another driver, don’t: pull over instead.
- You veer out of your lane. This is a sign of distraction and can result in a wreck, so take even the slightest creep across lane markings as a sign you need to take a break.
- You display any sign of tiredness, such as yawning or excessive blinking. Driving while tired is inherently dangerous, so stop as soon as you can.
- You make a mistake on a route you know well. This is a sign your mind isn’t entirely on the task, and you need to pull over and center yourself.
What you should do
If you notice any of the above happening, then the most important thing is to stop driving immediately— even if that makes you late or disrupts your schedule. When pulled over, you can call someone for help, take a nap, or even just try deep breathing techniques until you feel more like yourself. Whichever you choose, only resume driving when you’re 100% certain you have dealt with whatever was troubling you.
If the situation repeats when you’re back on the road, stop for good, and call a friend or family member for assistance. Safety is always more important than reaching point B, so do what it takes to protect yourself and prevent an accident at all costs.