Stress leads to dangerous, risky driving behavior, expert says

Jul 18, 2022, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jul 19, 2022, 12:02 pm
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Utah County Sheriff's Sergeant Spencer Cannon shows the radar readout in his patrol car. (Screenshot)

SALT LAKE CITY — With street racing an ongoing problem in Salt Lake City and more motorists driving at an extremely high rate of speed on Utah’s highways, law enforcement has been forced to deal with dangerous driving more often. 

Over the weekend, Salt Lake City Police and the Utah Highway Patrol cracked down on street racing with the arrest of 15 individuals. Police also had 14 cars towed.

Additionally, the Utah Highway Patrol announced on Friday that two of its troopers had pulled over the same vehicle, 10 minutes apart, going in excess of 100 miles per hour.

On Monday, Dave and Dujanovic talked to psychologist Dr. Laura White about the mindset of driving.

She says the problem stems from the pandemic when there were fewer cars on the road, but with a higher level of stress.

“When we’re faced with stress, and I think we can all definitely agree the pandemic has been incredibly stressful with the prolonged exposure to stress and adversity,” she said.

She says driving skills rapidly decline once stress starts to take its toll on the driver.

“We get less able to respond quickly,” she said. “Make good decisions, process information, control over impulses. So, all these things that would be really important for driving are less developed. And we are not coming to the wheel as the best drivers we could be.

As such, White says driving skills are becoming more dangerous.

“We are not thinking clearly,” she said. “And that results in a lot of unhealthy, risky behavior.”

She says the risky behavior includes speeding and not wearing a seat belt.

“So, lots of things are going on that’s just making us less-safe drivers,” White said.

Mark Jones contributed to this article.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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Stress leads to dangerous, risky driving behavior, expert says