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OUR BLOG

24/02/2016 10:21:24

Sadness is distracting to drivers

A study by American researchers has found that driving while undergoing feelings of sadness, anxiety or anger can raise your accident risk by ten times. In other words, it can be more distracting than many of the knowingly risky behaviours that motorists indulge in while behind the wheel, such as mobile phone use, driving while tired, or eating at the wheel.


Tiredness, although more commonly thought of as a distraction, apparently increases the chance of accident by three times, so anger, sadness or anxiety can have a much more distracting effect. More research is needed to actually quantify the effects of emotions on crash statistics according to Dr Tom Dingus, who works for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute who carried out the study.

The number one risk of a crash is still driving under drugs and alcohol, with making a hand held mobile phone call, writing and reading following close behind. Driving while crying, sad, anxious or angry comes fourth on the long list of risky behaviours that can affect our driving. Maybe we should have signs along our major roads admonishing us to ‘cheer up’ or ‘think positive’ as well as the current ‘think bike’ and ‘don’t drive while tired’. We could even have emotional support centres on our motorway services alongside the rest stops!

It has often been thought that children travelling in the rear of the car are also a distraction, but the study has found that this is not necessarily the case. Talking and playing games with a child while driving can actually reduce the accident rate, as it has a calming effect on most parents. Having said that, the interaction with the child needs to be positive, as I can imagine that a screaming match would be just as or maybe more distracting than feelings of sadness, and it would certainly increase a driver’s anxiety and anger levels!



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