Driving when stressed can be dangerous

State of mind affects driving, study supporting World Mental Health Day shows.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 10 OCTOBER 2019

Depression, stress and anger can make drivers more likely to have accidents, a new report reveals.

Around two-thirds of the people questioned in the study, carried out by YouGov for Carrot Insurance, said their state of mind affects their driving.

And when it comes to young drivers aged 18-24, almost a quarter (23%) believe their state of mind has a big impact on their driving, although this reduces with age to just 7% for the over 55s.

Nine out of ten people (89%) think anger makes people more likely to have an accident, 84% think stress could be a cause of accidents and 64% think this is the case with depression.

Running late, aggressive drivers and careless pedestrians are also cited as having a negative impact on driving behaviour.

Paul Ripley, CEO and founder of online driver coaching business The Driving Doctor, said: “The state of our mental health affects our attitudes, behaviours and emotions, and can therefore have a significant impact on the way we drive.”

“These human factors profoundly manipulate our behavioural approach to safe driving, and may have a detrimental effect on the way we think, feel, act and react to situations we meet on the road.

“This can lead to erratic decision making and risky driving 'practises'. Such decisions made by a driver in a poor mental state play a prominent role in unsafe driving outcomes.”

Mental health experiences

The study was carried out to support World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

As well as the YouGov survey, Carrot Insurance asked its own customers, many of whom are young drivers, about their mental health experiences.

Fifteen per cent reported poor or somewhat poor mental health, while 65% said they were likely or very likely to seek help if they felt their driving was being affected by mental health.

And while some described how feeling stressed made them drive more aggressively, some said that going for a drive helped them relax and calm down.

Carrot Insurance Managing Director Ed Rochfort said: “It’s worrying of course that 15% of them report a degree of poor mental health – on the other hand it’s encouraging that most of them would seek help if they needed it.

“Whatever the issue, our paramount concern is their safety on the roads, and we want to make sure that that help is easily accessible for those who need it.”

Carrot Insurance will be adding a section to it's website with advice and contacts for people wanting support on mental health issues.