Can Sensory Overload Affect Traffic Safety?

When I get sensory overload, I feel the need to be more cautious in traffic.

In Downtown Vancouver, I had a close call last year. Shortly after work, I was making a left turn from Beatty St onto a bike lane on Smithe St and a car going straight had to swerve and I braked when I noticed it at the last moment. Thankfully, the light just turned green at that time since slower traffic meant there was more time to react.left turn.png

It’s possible that the road markings were confusing at that time. I was in the green left turn lane turning into a bike lane on the left side of the road. It was my first time left turning in that intersection. Beatty St now has a protected bike lane.

I most likely had sensory overload or a partial shutdown at that time. I only started wearing hearing protection for suspected triggers this year.

It not only affects cycling but also driving and crossing streets when there’s sensory overload.

I recommend taking quieter streets if possible, being extra cautious when you think you have sensory overload, avoiding left turns on busy streets if possible, using bike lanes instead of busy traffic, avoiding the triggers, and studying the route ahead of time to improve safety.

You might be able to predict shutdowns with noise levels, exhaustion, and a change of route or routine.

You can try hearing protection at work or school to reduce sensory overload. You might be able to find products that can effectivly block wind noise. You can try making them.

Do you or someone you know find traffic safety affected by sensory load? Do you have any advice? If so, please share your comments below.

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