A third of Brits regularly drive while stressed – and half believe other motorists are to blame
By Richard Jenkins
A THIRD of Brits regularly drive while stressed – and half of them believe other motorists are to blame, a study has found.
Being tailgated is the biggest cause of anxiety among those polled, while bad weather is top for a further 35% of drivers. Another one in three admit to getting wound up by cyclists on the road.
And almost four in 10 drivers say their biggest stress trigger is driving on a winding lane with blind bends while 24% can’t deal with passing tractors.
The research was conducted by insurers Swinton Group, which has teamed up with road safety charity IAM RoadSmart on a campaign to remind drivers of their road manners in a bid to reduce stress on Britain’s roads this winter.
Anne Kirk of Swinton said: “We see a sharp increase in calls to our customer service team each year from October and throughout the winter period as drivers navigate tougher driving conditions and busier roads. We know that stressed drivers can contribute to accidents, and we want to play our part in helping reduce the likelihood of incidents on the road.”
Rebecca Ashton, head of driving behaviours at IAM RoadSmart added: “The behaviour of others on the road has a significant impact on the stress levels felt by motorists, so we’re encouraging drivers to remember their road manners. Stress can affect how we feel physically and emotionally and, as a result, can impair our judgement and our reactions.
“Courtesy costs nothing, and tailgating or making sudden decisions, like braking and swerving, will frustrate other drivers and distract you. Aggressive driving is not safe, so if you feel agitated, you should always stop driving.”
The study, of more than 2,000 adults, found women are more likely than men to let something on the road stress them out. And London drivers feel more stress than those living anywhere else. In comparison, drivers in the South East find themselves the most relaxed while driving.
To demonstrate how easily stress can build up on the road, TV and radio presenter Gethin Jones was tested by IAM RoadSmart on six top driving stressors to see how he’d cope. You can see a video of how he got on by clicking here.
Gethin said: “I like to think of myself as a good driver, but my ability to stay safe was completely compromised when I was distracted by things like tailgating. I’ve experienced a fair bit of road rage in my time, as most people have. But it’s been an eye opener to see just how stressed out it made me feel and how it resulted in me making some really silly mistakes. Obviously in a test environment it wasn’t a big risk, but out on the road could be another story.”
* To help drivers cope with the stresses they face on the roads, Swinton has partnered with road safety specialists, IAM RoadSmart, to provide expert advice and guidance to aid motorists in becoming more confident and calm behind the wheel – even when stressful situations arise.
THE TOP 10 DRIVING STRESSORS
1. Being tailgated (i.e. another driver being very close behind me)
2. Poor driving decisions by other drivers (e.g. speeding)
3. Bad road surfaces (e.g. potholes)
4. Winding lanes with blind bends (i.e. bends I cannot easily see around)
5. Bad weather (e.g. heavy rain etc.)
6. Passing cyclists on the road
7. A lack of road lighting
8. It being too sunny (i.e. sun shining in my eyes when driving)
9. Passing horses on the road
10. Passing tractors on the road
THE REGIONS THAT EXPERIENCE THE MOST AND LEAST STRESS
2 East of England
3 West Midlands
3 North West
4 Yorkshire and the Humber
5 East Midlands
6 North East
7 South West
9 South East