Articles Tagged ‘stress - Brake the road safety charity’

Driver advice: stress

Drivers can pledge to – never drive if stressed.

Everyone can pledge to– look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it.

Learn more: Read out fact page on driver stress.

stressStress at the wheel is a major problem for many drivers. A Brake and Direct Line survey of UK drivers found that 71% had lost concentration at the wheel in the past year due to stress or annoyance. This risks the lives of drivers and other road users. Combating stress while driving is essential.

US road safety organisation AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has designed an online questionnaire for drivers to use to assess whether they are prone to road rage. It assesses traits such as aggression, impatience and behaviour toward other road users, and gives basic advice on staying calm at the wheel.

All drivers can follow these simple guidelines to help reduce stress and road rage:

  • Consider alternatives to driving, which may help you to arrive feeling calmer and more refreshed, like walking, cycling or public transport.
  • Try to clear your mind of personal or work problems before driving.
  • Focus on the road and other road users around you. Be aware that an unexpected hazard could crop up at any moment and if you are not concentrating it could be fatal.
  • Learn to accept things that bother you on the road, such as other people driving inconsiderately, and make a positive decision not to let them wind you up [1].
  • Calm, controlled breathing helps to release muscular tension and relieve stress [2].
  • Don’t drive if you’re tired, and take rest breaks at least every two hours for at least 15 minutes to refocus your concentration.
  • Plan your route carefully and allow plenty of time for your journey – rushing will only make you more stressed.
  • Ensure the driver’s seat, head restraint and steering column are correctly adjusted for you: aches and pains due to poor posture will not improve your mood.
  • Drive at an appropriate speed well within the speed limit, go 20 or below around homes, schools and shops, and avoid overtaking unless essential.  Driving aggressively, speeding and overtaking are unlikely to get you there much faster, but could make you feel more tense, or even prevent you from arriving at all.
  • Make sure you eat sensibly, as hunger can affect your concentration [3] – but don’t eat at the wheel as this will distract you from driving [4].

If you are struggling to cope with stress, behind the wheel or in everyday life, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor for help.

If you are suffering from work-related stress you should also talk to your employer about how this could be reduced, as your employer has a duty of care to ensure your work does not harm your physical or mental health. Visit for advice on work-related stress.

 [1] ‘You’re a bad driver but I just made a mistake’, Queensland University of Technology, 2011

 [2] Relaxation tips to relieve stress, NHS Choices, 2014                                                                   

 [3] You are what you eat: how food affects your mood, Dartmouth College, 2011

 [4] Crash dieting: The effects of eating and drinking on driving performance, Accident Analysis & Prevention, 2008

Page updated June 2015

Driver stress and road rage

Learn more: Read our advice page on avoiding driving while stressed.
  • Aggressive driving contributed to 114 fatal road crashes in 2018 [1];
  • One in five UK drivers experience road rage at least once a week, and two million experience it every day [2]. Young people are particularly at risk as almost half (42%) of 18-34 year olds report experiencing road rage at least once a week, and 14% say they experience it every day;
  • Almost half (43%) of UK drivers say they have been victimised by other drivers who were experiencing road rage. Female drivers are more likely to be targeted by angry drivers than male drivers are [3];
  • Research shows 8% of drivers rate aggression from other drivers as their biggest concern on the road [4].


Driving is a complex task that requires full concentration and a calm attitude. Heightened emotions, such as stress or anger, are a form of cognitive distraction and can significantly impede drivers’ ability to spot and respond to hazards. Research shows that drivers who suffer from work-related stress are more likely to speed and take other risks while driving, and more likely to be involved in serious crashes [5].

Stress is a significant problem in the UK and elsewhere: research indicates more than 11 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to stress, and almost half a million people suffer work-related stress so severe that it makes them feel ill [6]. Stress accounts for 44% of all work-related illness [7].

All drivers are exposed to stressful driving situations from time to time, even if they do not generally suffer from stress in everyday life. Long commutes, poor weather and busy traffic can all make it more likely that drivers will become stressed.

Stress and anger at the wheel is a problem for many drivers. A Brake and Direct Line survey of UK drivers found that 71% had lost concentration at the wheel in the past year due to stress or annoyance. The most common reason for this was the behaviour of other road users (60%), followed by stress about personal issues (44%) and work-related stress (39%) [8].

Road rage

Some drivers react angrily to stressful driving situations: this is often referred to as ‘road rage’, and can be incredibly dangerous. Driving aggressively can in turn increase your stress levels, becoming a vicious circle [9]. Aggressive driving contributed to 3,261 road crashes in 2018 [9]. Of these, 114 were fatal – or 8% of all fatal road crashes recorded by police that year.

Road rage is not a criminal offence, but it may lead to prosecution for different reasons if it causes drivers to act aggressively or in a way that puts other road users at risk.

Drivers experiencing road rage may be more likely to engage in:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Harsh braking or cornering
  • Changing lanes erratically
  • Jumping red lights [10]

Research has shown that road rage is a key concern for many drivers. Almost half (43%) of drivers polled in an RAC survey said they had been victims of road rage [11], with female drivers more likely to be targeted than male drivers (49% compared to 37%). Three in 10 people have witnessed physically abusive behaviour related to driving in 2019, and almost half (20 million) witnessed verbal abuse [12]. In total, 8% of drivers ranked aggression from other drivers as their biggest fear on the roads.

Learn more: Employers can access guidance from Brake on managing driver stress and a broad range of other road safety topics to help them prevent at-work crashes at

End notes

[1] Department for Transport (2019), Reported road casualties in Great Britain, annual report: 2018, table RAS50001

[2] BigChange (2018), Angry roads: new research reveals scale of our road rage nation, accessed 17/03/2020

[3] RAC (2018), RAC Report on Motoring 2018

[4] RAC (2019), RAC Report on Motoring 2019

[5] Health and Safety Authority (2002), The contribution of individual factors to driving behaviour: implications for managing work-related road safety

[6] Bupa (2020), Work-related stress

[7] HSE (2019), Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2019

[8] Brake and Direct Line (2011), Driven to distraction: driver stress

[9] Shamoa-Nir, L. and Koslowsky, M. (2010), Aggression on the road as a function of stress, coping strategies and driver style, Bar-Ilan University

[10] Dittman, M. (2005), Anger on the road, American Psychological Associ

[11] RAC (2018), RAC Report on Motoring 2018

[12] RAC (2019), RAC Report on Motoring 2019

Enjoy safe and stress free driving this bank holiday

bank holiday

David Quin, vice president, consumer applications at ALK shares his thoughts on the bank holiday driving season

The spring bank holiday season is finally here, presenting us with the opportunity to spend long weekends visiting friends or family or simply getting away for a few days in and around the UK.

In recent years we have seen a resurgence in holidaying on our home turf. The rise of the staycation and a renewed pride in our national heritage and all things British (cue ‘British Bake Off’) has inspired us to get in the car and drive off to discover the local landscape, be it countryside or beach, with no passport - or airport stress - required.

From a planning perspective, taking advantage of the technology available to us has never been easier. Paper maps and even traditional sat nav’s are no longer on the packing checklist, leaving us less things to worry about: all you have to remember to take with is your Smartphone.

The rise of high performance sat nav app’s (such as CoPilot) ensure that we have everything we need on our phone or tablet. Not only do they get us to where we want to be, but can help us avoid those dreaded bank holiday jams with real time traffic information.

A further advantage of using offline sat nav apps, like CoPilot, is that detailed street maps are stored on board your device, not downloaded on the fly, meaning that if you are caught in a signal black spot (and these show no signs of abating, despite government initiatives), you’ll still get directions, just like with a dedicated sat nav.

When it comes to in-car safety and using mobile devices, it is natural for drivers to be concerned and aware of the dangers. Sat nav apps should be as driver-friendly as possible and provide safe, clear and non-invasive directions to avoid distraction. CoPilot includes a variety of driver-friendly features including Motion Lock to prevent use of app controls while on the move, and a unique ‘directions only’ safety mode, which helps to keep drivers focused on the road ahead rather than on-screen.For tips to avoid distracted driving with sat nav’s this bank holiday visit

For 2015 ALK have partnered with Brake, the leading road safety charityto raise awareness about safer use of mobile technology when travelling by car. The CoPilot bank holiday sale is now on with 20% off Uk & Ireland & Europe Apps until 5th May.

Follow CoPilot on twitter @copilotgps

Five Reasons To Drive More Slowly

Speeding is the biggest cause of road traffic collisions and we all know that exceeding the limit by even a few mph can have a catastrophic impact in a collision. What is less discussed is the impact of speeding on your driving behaviour in general – what happens to you and your car when you drive slowly? What are the benefits?

Octo Telematics, the number one global provider of telematics for the auto insurance industry, supports Road Safety Week and the pledges Brake has proposed on slow driving:

Drivers – I'll stay under limits, and slow down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops to protect others. I'll slow right down for bends, brows and bad weather, and avoid overtaking.

Everyone– I'll speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.

Here are five good reasons to drive slowly, for yourself and for all those around you:

  1. Safety – Driving more slowly is crucial to road safety. Every 1mph reduction in average speeds is estimated to lead to a 5% fall in crash rates. Police at crash scenes record breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in the UK.
  2. Wear and tear - Speed has a huge impact on wear and tear from the moment you start the car to the moment you put on the hand brake. It’s much kinder to your engine to start the car and move away slowly than to start the engine and wait for it to warm up before roaring away. Harsh braking and cornering at speed also take a toll on your tyres.
  3. Fuel costs - Once you’re on the road, slower driving means lower fuel costs – driving faster tends to burn more fuel and is a less efficient way to drive. It has a big impact on stopping and starting on your journey too – rapid acceleration and harsh braking also affect your fuel emissions.
  4. Awareness – Slower driving makes you more aware of and responsive to your environment, making you more likely to react safely to potential hazards. Take every opportunity to look, see and act on what's happening well ahead and around you. This pays off not only in terms of collision prevention, but also a more efficient and relaxing drive.
  5. Stress – Driving more slowly and carefully means less stress for you and for other road users around you. The desire to do get everywhere at top speed is a big source of stress – accept that you can’t control traffic flow.Simply observe your situation and then make your move... and save yourself and others from road rage.

Octo’s free smartphone app Octo U (iPhone and Android) collects, analyses and stores telematics data on your driving behaviour, giving you tips on how to improve and a score to motivate you. It detects, reconstructs and analyses all significant events that occur during a trip, such as harsh braking, rapid acceleration, speeding and how curves are negotiated. You can compare your score with friends and compete to be the best driver, as well as submit it to a panel of insurers to see if you could qualify for a discount.