Driving in London NOT as Stressful as You Might Expect, Field Study Finds

A field study was conducted to explore what factors are affecting our stress levels whilst driving. 60 controlled test drivers were completed by three drivers in major cities in the UK such as Birmingham, Cardiff, London, and Manchester. Drivers were attached to heart rate and electrodermal activity monitors, and they were filmed in the vehicle to allow the research team to compare physical and emotional responses to events. The journeys were made at both peak and off-peak times. A stress score was calculated to determine where the drivers were most stressed, and why. One cause of stress is driving without insurance so take a look at this information here.
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We tested three participants with different ages and levels of driving experience – a semi-retired man in his late 50s, a professional Uber driver in his 30s and a 20 year old student. Interestingly, despite having a fair amount of experience, the Uber driver was the most stressed participant overall – this could mean that his consistent exposure to driving in city centres is putting him at risk of chronic stress.

What were the results?

  • Despite perception, field study found that London was NOT the most stressful city in the UK to drive in. It came joint third with Cardiff, behind Manchester and Birmingham.
  • It was only 13% less stressful than Manchester, which was found to be the most stressful city.
  • It had the second highest frequency of stressors after Manchester. The biggest stressors in London were crowds and roadworks.
  • It was 13% more stressful to drive in London during rush hour compared to non-rush hour.
  • None of the drivers were most stressed in London.

Dr. Prudence Knight from Push Doctor has commented on the field study, saying:

“Too much stress too often can promote the overproduction of hormones like cortisol which can contribute to the development of a range of physical and mental health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. In particular chronic stress, can also impair our judgment by making us anxious and irritable and so contribute to poor decision making whilst driving”.

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