Emotions and Driving
Many Albertans have begun to head back to Fort McMurray to rebuild their lives after the wildfire. After a month of living in limbo, they will drive north up 63 and 881 to face the devastation for the first time. As they move past the once-familiar landmarks and come upon their communities and homes, there is no doubt that many Fort McMurrayites will feel overwhelmed.
We are incredibly sympathetic to everyone going through this. Many of our members’ employees are among them. But if there ever was a silver lining in this desolation, it’s that for the most part, the people of our community escaped unscathed. Over 2,000 homes or buildings were completely destroyed, yet not one life was lost in the fire. Our hearts broke when we heard that the only fatality occurred during evacuation – on highway 881 – one of our highways. We can’t let this happen again. Fatalities cause too much devastation and heartache, and quite frankly, these are two things that our community has experienced more than our fair share of lately.
Emotions can be distracting. They can take your focus away from driving – the task-at-hand when you’re behind the wheel. Research has found distracted driving to be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, and it’s now the biggest killer on Alberta roads.
If you have been evacuated from Fort McMurray and are now heading home, please be aware of your emotions while you drive. Here are some tips to help.
Take Some Deep Breaths
Deep breathing can help calm your nerves. If you must drive, take a moment to close your eyes and take a few deep, relaxing breaths.
Take a Break
If deep breathing isn’t working, step out of the car and take a break. Clear your head by going for a quick walk, drinking water or eating a snack. Be sure to safely pull off the road and onto the shoulder before doing so.
Listen to Calming Music
Think of the type of music that makes you calm – whether it be classical, folk or even rock n’ roll. Put on something that soothes you, but doesn’t feed into the emotions that you’re feeling.
Think About Something Else
This isn’t an easy task when you’re emotional, but it can be helpful. Try to become hyper-focused on the technical aspects and mental challenges of driving to deter you from being overcome by your emotions.
Enlist a Driving Partner
Ask someone to drive with you. When your emotions start to become overwhelming, your driving partner can support you or can take the wheel to give you time to calm down.