It is likely that driving is the most dangerous thing you do each day. Even when we’ve reached a point of comfort and boredom with driving, after we’ve acquired some not so safe habits of driving there remains within us a system that stays on high alert. This constant state of underlying vigilance leads us to having higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol. As we drive, little by little, with each time we have to unexpectedly brake or swerve our amygdala is recognizing danger and threat. We should be thankful to have such functions working within us. It is the part of the brain that is on the lookout, protecting us. It is, however, this constant “looking out” that colors our perception of the road, and our perceptions of other drivers.
As a driving instructor I’m am frequently hearing about how terrible all the other drivers on the road are. If this were actually true, there would be far more traffic incidents than already occur. But, with that being said, most of us do have room for improvement (myself included).
There are two things we can understand about our amygdala and it’s function that might help how we perceive other drivers on the road.
Think back to the last time you were on the road. It will probably be easier to recall the person who cut you off without using a turn signal rather than the hundreds who followed the rules of the road. The same brain function that protects us by constantly looking for problems and threats causes us to focus on the more dangerous driving.Read More