Drivers Are More Anxious Behind the Wheel Now Than Before the Pandemic

The pandemic had a major effect on the automotive industry as far as manufacturers and sales, but would you believe that it had an effect on drivers as well? According to one study, many drivers are now more anxious behind the wheel than they were before the pandemic hit. Let’s take a closer look at the stats.

The study shows that more than half of drivers are anxious behind the wheel

A man drives a 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS
A man drives a 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS. | Carsten Koall/picture alliance via Getty Images

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In a survey conducted by OnePoll, which partnered with the consumer electronics company Cobra,  53% of the 2,000 respondents noted that they feel anxious about other drivers on the road. What’s even more interesting is that 61% of respondents felt that the pandemic caused drivers, in general, to drive more unsafely than before the lockdown. This perception of driving danger could be due to more Americans getting used to taking road trips and thus having the potential to drive more erratically.

But the anxiety isn’t isolated to the driver’s seat. The New York Post reports that passengers in cars are now more cautious about what the driver is doing. The study shows that 60% of the respondents admitted that they watch the driver’s speed while they sit in the passenger seat. Even more staggering, 63% of the respondents said that they are now more nervous, in general, when their partner drives.

Despite any inherent driving dangers, many Americans are planning to take road trips this summer

A road you could plan a roadtrip on.
A road lined with trees | Getty Images

While you might think that these statistics about driving anxiety mean that drivers are deterred from taking road trips, the opposite is true. The study also uncovered that 53% of the respondents plan on taking road trips this summer compared to the pre-pandemic times in 2019. However, those summer road trips can cause drivers to drive unsafely.

The survey showed that 65% of the respondents drive faster on long trips, citing that running late, having less traffic on the road, and being in a hurry were contributing factors. Gail Babitt, the CEO of Cobra’s parent company Cedar Electronics told the NY Post, “From the seemingly empty roads at the beginning of the pandemic to the current ‘revenge travel’ wave we’re seeing this summer, it’s important for today’s drivers to feel safe and confident when getting behind the wheel.”

What can drivers do to reduce the amount of anxiety they feel when driving?

A group of cars, potentially with driver assist technology, driving down the road.
Traffic moving | Getty Images

Whether you plan to take a long road trip this summer or not, it’s important to reduce the amount of anxiety you feel when driving. The OnePoll study showed that 53% of the respondents wouldn’t know what to do if their car broke down on a trip, which also contributes to some of their anxiety.

In order to reduce the amount of anxiety that you might have behind the wheel, here are a few tips from Calm Clinic:

  • Focus on the road ahead: It’s important to focus on the road when driving on a long trip for safety reasons, but doing so can also take your mind off of any other distractions.
  • Don’t add to the anxiety: If you’re feeling anxious, you can prevent yourself from feeling more anxious by driving the speed limit, signaling ahead of time, and checking your blind spots to ensure your driving safety.
  • Practice mindfulness: As weird as it sounds, you can reduce your anxiety behind the wheel by being more mindful and meditating. Here are a few tips on meditating while driving.

While anxiety while driving has increased across the board, there are plenty of ways to reduce it. Driving slow, taking more time, or even taking a quicker route on a road trip can help. If all else fails, you can always opt to hop on a plane instead.

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