Avoiding Self-Harm While Driving

June 27, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

Keep Your Eyes on the Road and Not on Your Skin

Whether or not you’d like to believe it, the uncontrolled obsessiveness many have with their phone is similar to how people feel when they need to self-harm. Here's what I mean by that analogy.

When you’re driving, distractions are everywhere. You may not realize you’re distracting yourself by making your music louder or adjusting your sunglasses in the mirror, but you are. Whenever your eyes are off of the road for a second, you are that much closer to getting in an accident.

We have seen so many deaths and injuries from texting related incidents and it’s extremely hard not to look down at your phone during a commute. Most of the time, you have no reason to look at your phone in the first place, but you are just drawn to it, automatically.

If someone who cuts or burns has the urge to self-harm and they are behind the wheel of a car, it may be very difficult for them to push away that urge. Addictions have a way of taking over one’s body and if that person is in a car, well, they must quickly decide what choice to make.

If you have the urge to skin-pick, or look down and attack a feisty hangnail, do not look down when you are driving to do so. Why? Because you just may rear-end the car ahead of you – like I did.

Excoriation Disorder and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

I’ve mentioned many times my obsessiveness with picking my skin. This is the only self-harm related issue I still struggle with since I stopped cutting six years ago and it still remains an awful habit. I have small bumps on my arms and in my mind I feel the need to “pop” them and the same thing goes for picking hangnails.

Self-harm and skin picking struggles can easily get in the way when you're driving and looking at skin can lead to unsafe situations. Avoid self-harm in the car.

I find it very hard to stop myself when I start picking at something and this can cause not only infection and anxiety but safety issues as well.

Recently, I was driving, started digging at a hangnail, looked down at it for a second, and when I looked up, I rear-ended the car in front of me. This all happened so quickly that, at first, I couldn’t remember what I had been doing that had made me lose my focus and hit the car in front of me. After allowing myself time to calm down, I realized it was my obsessiveness with picking that had caused the small collision.

We all struggle with body-focused repetitive behaviors that harm ourselves, but we do it without realizing it (such as nail biting, pimple popping, scab picking and even knuckle cracking). For those who struggle with skin picking, the obsessiveness is called excoriation disorder. I never knew there was an actual title for this and now that this has come to my attention, I am very intrigued to find out more.

Not only did I learn that skin picking is an actual disorder, I have also learned how dangerous it is to multitask when driving – especially when the multitasking involves an obsessive habit. (Effects of Compulsive Skin-Picking) It may sound cliché, but it really is important to find ways to focus on the road when you’re behind the wheel and not on your phone, the mirror or your skin.

The world around you can be a very dangerous thing when you aren’t fully focused – I know that now to be more than true.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, June 27). Avoiding Self-Harm While Driving, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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