Driver stress levels up since first lockdown, survey reveals

An angry man driving behind the wheel

What are your stress levels like when you get behind the wheel?

A new survey shows 90% of drivers feel stressed and angry at least some of the time.

Driving emotions

This is up from 84% a year ago, according to research by road safety charity Brake and insurer Direct Line, suggesting the pandemic has played a role in people’s driving behaviour.

Brake director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: “The past year has been really challenging for people all across the UK, in many ways, and our research shows that driving behaviour may also have been affected by the pandemic.

“With the end of lockdown on the horizon, and our study showing that levels of stress and anger behind the wheel are on the up, it is vital that drivers are aware of the impact that negative moods can have on their driving behaviour.”

Driving aggressively was a contributory factor to the deaths of 123 people on Britain’s roads in 2019, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

The data also reveals that 1,126 people were seriously injured in crashes.

Harris is urging all drivers to be aware of their moods and do all they can to minimise the impact of stress and anger on their driving.

How to manage driving emotions

It’s important that you’re aware of your mood when driving as you’re in control of a vehicle which has the potential to cause injury and even death to other road users and pedestrians.

Some 11% of motorists admit to currently feeling stressed and angry every time they drive compared with 8% in March 2020.

Here are some steps you can take to manage your emotions when driving:

  • Let go of negative feelings – other drivers’ bad habits can be extremely irritating and although you might disagree with their methods, there’s no point in letting it affect your mood
  • Stick to the rules – other drivers may speed on a 30mph road, but that doesn’t mean you should. Take pride in your driving and hopefully others will follow your example
  • Listen to your favourite music – before you get behind the wheel, compile a list of all your favourite songs to listen to. This can help relax you and boost your mood
  • Make sure you’re fit to drive – the Highway Code advises not to begin your journey when tired as it can increase the risk of an accident. It can also affect your mood
  • Plan your trip – being in a rush will definitely up your stress levels. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and make sure you check traffic and weather reports before you set off

As lockdown restrictions ease, read our guide to getting your car back on the road.

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