British motorists driven round the bend: One third of drivers are stressed behind the wheel

9th September 2018

A third of Brits regularly drive while stressed - and half of them believe other motorists are to blame.

Being tailgated is the biggest cause of anxiety among those polled, while bad weather is top for a further 35 per cent of drivers.

Another one in three admit to getting wound up by cyclists on the road.

The research was conducted by insurers Swinton Group, whose customer director, Anne Kirk, 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.

“To help drivers cope with the stresses they face on the roads, we’ve 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.

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.”

Almost four in 10 drivers say their biggest stress trigger is driving on a winding lane with blind bends, and 24 per cent can’t deal with passing tractors.

Swinton 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.

Rebecca Ashton, head of driving behaviours at IAM RoadSmart said: “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.”

Women are more likely than men to let something on the road stress them out, while it was also revealed Londoners feel more stress than 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.

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.”

The top ten 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

1. London - 38%

2. East of England - 33%

3. Wales - 32%

3.  West Midlands - 32%

3. North West - 32%

4. Yorkshire and the Humber - 31%

5. East Midlands - 30%

6. North East - 29%

7. South West - 28%

8. Scotland - 27%

9. South East - 26%

GB average - 31%