More than 30% of British people regularly drive while stressed, survey says

Being tailgated, potholes and blind bends are among biggest sources of anxiety while driving

Richard Jenkins
Wednesday 10 October 2018 11:42 BST
London drivers experience more stress than those living anywhere else, according to survey
London drivers experience more stress than those living anywhere else, according to survey (Delmaine Donson/Getty iStock)

A third of British people regularly drive while stressed - and half of them believe other motorists are to blame, a new study claims.

Being tailgated is the biggest cause of anxiety among those polled, with bad weather also causing much stress on the road.

One in three said they are often irritated by cyclists.

Almost four in 10 of those surveyed said driving on a winding lane with blind bends made them feel stressed, while 24 per cent struggle with passing tractors.

The research was conducted by insurers Swinton Group, which has teamed up with road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

Their campaign aims to remind drivers of driving etiquette in a bid to reduce stress on Britain’s roads this winter.

Anne Kirk, Marketing Director at Swinton Insurance, 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 that women are more likely than men to become stressed while driving.

And London drivers feel more stress than those living anywhere else.

In comparison, drivers in the South East are 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.

Mr Jones 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 it could be another story.”

The top 10 driving stressors:

  1. Being tailgated
  2. Poor driving decisions by other drivers (eg speeding)
  3. Bad road surfaces (eg potholes)
  4. Winding lanes with blind bends 
  5. Bad weather
  6. Passing cyclists on the road
  7. A lack of road lighting
  8. It being too sunny
  9. Passing horses on the road
  10. Passing tractors on the road

The regions where drivers experience the most stress:

  1. London
  2. East of England
  3. Wales
  4. West Midlands
  5. North West
  6. Yorkshire and the Humber
  7. East Midlands
  8. North East
  9. South West
  10. Scotland
  11. South East


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