Study Measures the Stress of Driving

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Kael Greco is working with other transportation experts to develop a system to measure frustration, stress and anger behind the wheel.

Transportation research has focused on how to limit distracted driving and measure the impact of adverse weather, traffic density and poor road design. However, Greco is focusing on how the activity of driving itself is stressful.

Using the latest technologies to measure physical and emotional arousal, Greco and his fellow researchers are seeking a way to quantify how driving stress contributes to traffic accidents. Although it sounds simple and we’re all told to avoid tension, frustration and anger when driving, the raw data to support these practices may come from Greco’s groundbreaking techniques.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has a guide that helps parents teach teen drivers how to handle a vehicle. The DMV’s goal is to reduce teenage driving accidents. An important recommendation is to encourage new drivers not to drive while angry, tired, stressed, frustrated or distracted.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging police nationwide to toughen up on aggressive drivers, partly because they intimidate safe drivers who are forced to make stressful, quick decisions to avoid accidents with reckless, angry motorists.

MIT researchers believe that stress and frustration trigger aggressive driving and cause accidents. Heavy traffic, bad weather, city driving, construction and even the stress of getting someplace on time could make an otherwise calm driver anxious and angry.

With 777 fatalities and 67,004 injuries on Virginia roads in 2012, health and safety officials are striving to find new ways to make drivers pay attention to the dangers of driving. The daily hurly-burly of traffic in cities such as Richmond may fuel driver stress and aggression.

Aggressive driving accidents are a serious worry for safe drivers everywhere. If you are injured in a car accident, tractor-trailer crash, motorcycle wreck or other traffic collision, you may be entitled to compensation.