Rising road accidents linked to mental health? Here’s what you need to know

road rage
Some youngsters who are impulsive act hastily without thinking about the consequences. Goga Shutter / Shutterstock.com

A glance through the recent news reports suggest that over speeding, reckless driving, unlawful racing and performing dangerous stunts without proper precaution, on bikes and other vehicles have been rampant among the youths lately. Unfortunately, it is often the innocent pedestrians or drivers of other vehicles who have to pay the price in case of a mishap. People have even lost lives or suffer permanent injuries due to the aggressive fervour of the ‘racers’ who choose public roads to show off their skills.

As the number of speeding related accidents is going up, it is necessary to ponder about the mental state of the youngsters whose recklessness is often what causes the collision. At least some of them are impulsive and act hastily without thinking about the consequences. They are the ones who are most likely to cause accidents due to over speeding. Those who have shown symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD) like misbehaviour, lack of concentration and impulsiveness are likely to indulge in reckless driving by violating the traffic rules. Research has shown the presence of dopamine in lesser quantities in the frontal lobe of the brains in such persons. You can concentrate on an activity only if dopamine is present in certain quantities. However, those who have ADHD have lesser amount of dopamine in their brains. Hence, it is difficult for them to concentrate on what they are doing. The same carelessness or lack of concentration is seen even while doing activities like driving.

Besides, it has been found out that there isn’t a proper balancing between the right and left frontal lobes in their brain. So, impulsiveness and aggression are the common characteristic traits in such people. Not just reckless driving, but losing one’s temper quickly, turning violent, resorting to drugs and physically abusing their partners are some of the symptoms of untreated ADHD.

A person who has enough dopamine in brain would find happiness and excitement when they indulge in physical exercises, talk to friends, listen to music, watch a movie or eat delicious food. These activities would further increase their dopamine levels and they are able to enjoy happiness. However, the above activities do not excite those who have lower amounts of dopamine. For them, losing oneself in the thrill of dangerous adventures like over speeding is what give them a dopamine rush and subsequent pleasure.

Over speeding on bikes or riding dangerously through narrow or busy roads are some of the activities that give them extreme happiness or a sense of contentment. Many say that youngsters do reckless driving just for the momentous thrill. However, it must be noted that most youngsters are careful and follow the traffic rules while driving. It is possible that a majority of people who over speed, exhibit symptoms of ADHD. Symptoms like over speeding and being unreasonably adventurous are also seen in persons who are drug addicts. The level of dopamine shoots when they are under the intoxication of marijuana or other hard core drugs. This would give them a false courage that provokes them to behave errantly without being conscious of the consequences. Similarly, the functioning of the frontal lobes of alcohol addicts is likely to slow down. That is the reason why they often cause accidents due to over speeding or rash driving.

People who suffer from mental disturbances or disorders are easily drawn to dangerous activities. Meanwhile, people who suffer from bipolar disorder too may indulge in such adventures during their bouts of extreme ecstasy or thrill. Besides over speeding, they may verbally abuse the drivers of the vehicles that come from the opposite direction. These symptoms are also seen in people with emotionally unstable personality disorder. Short temperedness and aggressiveness while driving may indicate deficiencies in the functioning of certain areas in the brain. Dysfunctions in temporal lobe that controls emotions and the frontal lobe that stimulates self control are mostly seen in such persons.

There are youngsters or teenagers who drive dangerously just because they are curious. Groups of youngsters holding bike racing competitions on busy or urban roads have become common now. Sometimes, peer pressure is what forces them to take part in such dangerous activities even if they aren’t interested. However, the excitement that they get from such races may lure them to do it again. Moreover, people who are addicted to online games that depict violence are likely to be aggressive on road. Such games may have thrilling chasing or racing sequences that influence them. It is natural that persons who constantly watch these scenes may try to emulate them in real life.

It is important to discuss the mental state of those who are grievously injured or the sad plight of the people who lose their loved ones in such accidents. They are innocent persons who do not deserve such an unfortunate fate. A person who is paralyzed following an accident caused by a reckless driver is likely to drown in depression. Furthermore, the relatives and friends of those who died in accidents would go through life long grief. Data shows that a large number of youngsters too lose their lives in such accidents. Losing a child while they are still alive is the greatest tragedy that may befall a parent. Parents of youngsters and teenagers who have died in such accidents live the rest of their lives in severe agony and mental torment.

What are the basic courtesy that one need to show while driving?

Each individual should drive with the conviction that they are social beings too. It is necessary to realize that others too have the same rights as you do. Make sure that you drive on busy or congested roads only if you have the expertise or necessary practice. Else, it might lead to minor accidents that could affect your confidence or mental state. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is a crime. Be a responsible citizen and refrain from driving in case you are intoxicated. ADHD could be treated if identified correctly. Do not let people with ADHD drive vehicles unless they are treated. Road rage is a common trait that we often see on our roads in the form of over speeding, being aggressive while driving, trying to dangerously over take other vehicles or verbally abusing other drivers.

One must keep in mind that such behaviour actually violates human rights. All of us have the right to drive within the stipulated speed limit. You can even over take if the conditions are favourable. However, one shouldn’t do such things by violating the traffic rules or by mocking or abusing others.

We have the right to demand a person to follow the traffic rules in case we notice them violate the rules. Do not hesitate to seek the help of traffic officials in this matter. The speed limit is clearly exhibited at each road. It is better to stick to these rules and speed limits to drive safely. It is always great to reach your destination by driving carefully than lose your life midway in a horrible road mishap. Showing off your luxury vehicle by driving it recklessly is deplorable behaviour. It is not the value of the vehicle but the intelligent and socially responsible behaviour that makes driving an enjoyable experience for oneself and others. 

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