Driving when angry is MORE dangerous than using a phone and makes you TEN TIMES more likely to crash

24 February 2016

Driving while angry is more dangerous than talking on a mobile phone behind the wheel, research has shown. The biggest study of its kind found that 'emotional drivers' – those who were clearly angry, sad or agitated – were around five times as likely to crash as those who were chatting on their mobile. Stock image

Getting in the car when you're angry, or suffering from road rage could be putting your life at risk, according to new research.   

The biggest study of its kind found that 'emotional drivers' - those who were clearly angry, sad or agitated - were around five times as likely to crash as those who were chatting on their mobile.

Overall, those overwhelmed by their emotions were 9.8 times as likely to have an accident as model motorists.

It is hoped the finding, from an analysis of millions of miles of motoring, will help governments, car manufacturers and drivers themselves think about how to make the roads safer. 

To find out what is driving the majority of crashes, researchers in the US fitted the cars of more than 3,500 people aged between 16 and 98 with an array of cameras, microphones and sensors.

These recorded every movement each motorist made on every journey for up to two years, allowing the researchers to see exactly what was happening in the vital seconds leading up to an accident.

In all, the cars travelled 35 million miles and were involved in 905 serious crashes.

Most involved driver error or distraction - mechanical faults and flat tyres were extremely rare.

And the hidden cameras revealed that a person's mood took a clear toll on their performance.

The motorists were judged to be angry, sad, agitated or openly crying on one in 500 journeys - increasing their odds of a crash almost ten-fold.

This made driving while emotional more dangerous than driving while drowsy, fiddling with the radio or air conditioning or chatting to a passenger.

The Virginia Tech researchers said: 'The risk of driving while in such an elevated emotional state is 9.8 times higher than model driving.

'Although not as prevalent as some other driving behaviours, driving in an elevated emotional state is not rare.'

AA president Edmund King said that if someone's mind is on a row with their spouse or boss, they will not be concentrating on the road ahead.

'Our own research has shown that if a couple had an argument in the morning, before one jumped in the car to go to work, they were more likely to speed, tailgate and flash their lights aggressively, he explained.

'If you are in a bad mood, you are more likely to be distracted.

'And the argument will be at the top of your mind, rather than the pedestrian stepping out in front of you 100 yards away.'

Emotional driving was also more dangerous than talking on mobile phone, which roughly doubled the odds of an accident.

However, dialling on a mobile was even riskier, raising the likelihood of a crash more than 12-fold, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Perhaps not surprisingly, drunk-driving carried one of the biggest risks, while poor driving, including sudden braking and failing to give way, also greatly increased the odds of a smash.

However, talking to a child made journeys safer - perhaps because motorists adapted their driving with their young passenger in mind.

Finally, and despite being perceived as distractions, 'dancing' in the driving seat and putting on make- up behind the wheel did not raise the odds of having an accident.

Researcher Dr Tom Dingus, of Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute, said: 'All of these findings are especially important as we work with policymakers, educators, drivers themselves, law enforcement officials, and vehicle designers to define and help mitigate driver risks.

'Although it is obviously not feasible to eliminate all driving distraction, countermeasures such as driver awareness, education programmes, better enforcement of existing laws and emerging crash avoidance systems on vehicles, including automated braking systems, could have a measurable impact.'




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