Everything from pedestrians crossing the road to cars switching lanes without signaling—the road is full of the unexpected. Thus, improving reaction time is a valuable skill for drivers to develop. It helps them read situations quickly and adapt without panicking. If you want to become a safer driver, here are some ways you can boost your reaction time.
Play Video Games
If you want to improve your ability to make split-second decisions in high-pressure driving situations, start by putting yourself in situations where you are forced to predict and respond to obstacles in everyday life. As crazy as it may sound, you could start by playing video games. A group of scientists from the University of Rochester have observed video games actually help drivers improve their reaction time.
“Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster. The researchers found that video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn’t just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of general skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.” Source: rochester.edu
Avoid Using Your Phone While Driving
Reaction time expert Marc Green says that our “cognitive load” is partially to blame for slow reaction time when driving. According to his studies, drivers don’t break as quickly when they split their focus between driving and something else. Perhaps they are distracted by something else on the road or perhaps they’re preoccupied with other thoughts. Green says that navigation devices and cell phones also add to drivers’ cognitive load. He says, “There is no doubt that both cause delays in reaction times, with estimates ranging from 0.3 to as high a second or more, depending on the circumstances.” Try limiting your phone use and minimizing other distractions while driving to improve your driving reaction time.
Practice stress management
Good drivers are able to handle high-pressure situations calmly. If you’re prone to panic attacks or anxiety, learning to do deep breathing could help you improve your reaction time by simply helping you stay calm. The better you manage stress in general, the better your brain will be able to process information and react while driving.