5 things you need to know to reduce stress and drive safe in traffic

Traffic around D.C. can be a nightmare - anyone who has ever driven on the beltway knows that!

It can also take a toll on your patience.

But experts say it's your driving personality that can make or break you in traffic.

Doctor Colleen Hawthorne joined us to talk about what determines your driving personality and how to keep calm behind the wheel!

According to Dr. Hawthorne, driving is more stressful now than ever. New distractions and dangers like high rates of road rage, aggressive driving, road cameras, and seat belt laws have led to this. Access to cell phones also complicates driving matters.

Driving personalities can be very different from our actual personality outside of the car, said Hawthorne. Someone can be a very different person behind the wheel.

"It depends what the other circumstances are. If you're running late for work, you'll be amped up. If you've got plenty of time, there's no rush. It's like you're listening to music, you're having quite time to yourself," said FOX 5's Bob Barnard who came out ahead of producer Terri Tolliver in Thrusday's My Way Or The Highway contest.

"If you're running late for church or for school or somewhere, and you don't want to be late and you're in traffic, sure it will fire you up a little bit," Barnard said.

Tolliver says looking at the scenery helps her relax in stressful driving situations.

"I'd rather just move and I like to have things that I can look at. We saw the cherry blossoms coming in. It keeps me calm. So if I were in that situation on the beltway, I think I would have been a completely different person," said Tolliver.

Hawthorne says being prepared is the key to driving in stressful situations.

She gave us a list of 5 things to do on the road to reduce stress and drive safe. They are:


2. PUT ON your driving mine set (you're there to be responsible and ready and relaxed.)

3. PUT AWAY all the distractions.

4. PACK positivity and patience.

5. PRACTICE deep breathing (that helps keep the body calm and bringing blood into the body.)

But even if we follow the rules, how do we protect ourselves from those other drivers who don't?

Dr. Hawthorne says it's all part of the preparation.

Staying relaxed, staying in a good state of mind, being responsible and never giving in to aggressive driving are all ways to keep from becoming distracted and stressed out.