A survey of 2,000 drivers suggests that stress and anger behind the wheel have increased since the first national lockdown in March 2020.
In the survey, carried out on behalf of Brake and Direct Line, respondents also admitted that ‘negative moods’ are having a detrimental effect on their driving behaviour – with more than half confessing to accelerating and braking more harshly, driving more quickly and being less focused on the task of driving.
The survey shows that in March 2021, nine in 10 drivers admitted to feeling stressed or angry when behind the wheel, up 6% from March 2020.
In addition, more than one in 10 respondents said they feel stressed every time they drove, up 3% over the same period last year.
As the country follows the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, Brake and Direct Line have published a new ‘Driving behaviour’ report, to raise awareness of the dangers of negative moods behind the wheel.
Brake also points to Government statistics which show that in 2019, aggressive driving contributed to 110 fatal crashes and one in 20 crashes which resulted in serious injury.
The road safety charity has published the following series of simple steps to ease a driver’s mood behind the wheel:
- Focus on calm, controlled breathing, which can help release muscular tension and relieve stress.
- Plan your route carefully, and allow plenty of time for your journey to avoid feeling pressured to rush.
- Drive at appropriate speeds for the road environment and avoid overtaking unless absolutely necessary, to reduce feelings of tension.
- Have something to eat before setting off, as hunger can affect your concentration. However, do not eat at the wheel as this could distract you from driving.
- Consider alternatives to driving such as walking, cycling, or public transport, as these may help you to arrive feeling calmer and more refreshed.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “The past year has been really challenging for people all across the UK 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.
“Every time you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for a machine with the capacity to cause catastrophic injury and even death, and so we urge all drivers to be aware of their moods and do all they can to minimise the impact of stress and anger on their driving.”