Anxiety is a killer distraction on our roads

Jun 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Driving while stressed can be as distracting and dangerous as talking on your mobile phone, according to a study by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Ides Wong, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), studied 75 aged 17 to 47 to investigate the negative impact anxiety had on driver performance.

"Being anxious makes drivers unable to fully focus their attention on the road, particularly in urban areas, where there are plenty of distractions and when time pressured," said Ms Wong, whose research was awarded the top RACQ Road Safety Prize.

She said urban environments also posed an increased threat because there were significantly more distractions, such as billboards and increased traffic levels, for drivers to deal with.

"This study found that highly anxious drivers had significantly longer response times as tasks increased in difficulty," she said.

"This indicates that high-anxious drivers maintain accuracy at the expense of response time."

Ms Wong said what was of most concern about this was that drivers with slower response times were at greater risk of being involved in an accident.

"Attention lapses have been shown to be a leading cause of traffic crashes," she said.

"For example, crash statistics from South Australia revealed inattention was believed to be a major contributing factor in as many as 60 per cent of fatal crashes in 2008."

She said this study highlighted that had a significant negative impact on a driver's concentration resulting in longer reaction time.

"What this study aims to do is help drivers recognise the importance of avoiding driving while under stress," Ms Wong said.

"Motorists commonly put themselves under unnecessary pressure to arrive quickly at their destination, so simple things like pre-planning your trip or allowing more time to travel can greatly reduce levels and help ensure drivers arrive safely.

"It is important to recognise that being anxious can affect driving ability in the same way as taking your eyes off the road or talking on a mobile phone."

Explore further: Rehospitalization in younger patients

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Drivers ignore the risk of mobile phone use

Dec 11, 2006

A George Institute road safety study has revealed an alarmingly high rate of mobile phone use amongst Australian drivers. Published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week, the survey conducted in NSW and WA found ...

Family and friends set the speedo

Dec 11, 2006

If your family and friends approve of speeding, then chances are you are more likely to plant your foot on the accelerator, a study by Queensland University of Technology has found.

Inexperience a key factor in youth crashes

Sep 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A University of Adelaide (Australia) study has found that young drivers are twice as likely to have an accident during their first few months of driving on a provisional licence than after ...

Risky driving puts P-platers at high danger of crash

Jul 23, 2009

Australia's largest study of young drivers has shown that risky driving habits are putting young drivers at a significantly increased risk of crashing, irrespective of their perceptions about road safety. The study surveyed ...

Rural roads dangerous for young drivers

Sep 22, 2009

Results from Australia's largest study of young drivers have shown that they are at significant risk of crash on rural roads. According to researchers from The George Institute, young drivers living in rural areas are more ...

Recommended for you

Learn how to recognize, intervene in domestic violence cases

3 minutes ago

As recently as 40 years ago, domestic violence often was not considered a crime, even by law enforcement and the judicial system. Victims had little or no resources to help them escape the violence aimed at them and their ...

Exercise to prevent falls and fractures

1 hour ago

Boosting your activity levels and doing strength and balance exercises significantly reduces your risk of breaking a bone as a result of falling if you are over 60, according to experts from an international research group ...

User comments : 0