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Effects of Driving on Mental Health

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We often place a premium on our physical driving talents while overlooking the significance of mental health and its influence on driving ability. Mental diseases are clinical problems that may impact a person’s ability to drive. Too frequently, mental health gets linked with a few individuals in shackles, psychiatric facilities, and hours spent on a psychiatrist’s couch.

The fact is that many people suffer from mental illnesses that may impair their ability to drive. Mercedes-Benz researched in 2017 and discovered that one in every five car drivers rates their present mental health as bad. Driving is one of the most stressful tasks we have to do daily. It is most likely one that demands the most significant amount of focus. In this article, we’ll look at the effects of driving on mental health.

People who suffer from mental problems are more likely to be involved in car accidents. So before purchasing any pre-owned car, always get a revs check. Before closing the deal and making the final payment, always verify the VIN. You’ll obtain a comprehensive history of the automobile, including allegations of theft, damage, or accidents. You may prevent some of these central issues by doing a VIN check.

What effect do mental diseases have on our ability to drive?

Driving is a challenging endeavour that requires various abilities, including cognitive, sensorimotor, and psychosocial skills. Several studies have been undertaken to determine the impact of mental health on driving ability:

Hazard handling was the most common driving skill deficiency discovered throughout the simulated road assessment, followed by observation, planning and judgment, and vehicle placement. Perceptual diseases affect one’s ability to see, hear, and grasp the driving environment effectively.

Individuals suffering from paranoid illnesses may have erroneous views of other road users’ actions or intentions. Hallucination sufferers are continually busy, making it impossible for them to drive safely. Information processing impairments, such as cognitive impairment, excessive preoccupation, poor attention, or active psychotic thinking disorder, might make it difficult to drive safely.

Manic mood states get characterised by poor judgment, recklessness, and a feeling of invulnerability. If memory difficulties are more than minor, they may affect driving skills. Anxiety or panic episodes that are severe might be risky in high-traffic areas—increased Risk-taking or impulsivity. Impulsiveness and aggressive driving may get caused by mood, especially suicidal thoughts.

Effects of Driving a Car on Mental Health

You already know that driving is a real hassle. What does all that back-and-forth do to your body, other than putting you in a bad mood when you get stuck in traffic? Continue reading to learn how driving affects your emotional and physical health.

  • Your blood sugar levels have increased. According to a survey published in The American Journal, driving more than 10 miles each way to and from work is linked to higher blood sugar. Pre-diabetes and diabetes may get caused by high blood glucose levels.
  • Your cholesterol levels have increased. The same study published in The American Journal revealed that commuters with 10-mile one-way journeys had higher cholesterol levels. This is concerning since high cholesterol is a warning indication of heart disease.
  • Your chances of developing depression have increased. People who travel more than 10 miles each way have a greater risk of sadness, anxiety, and social isolation. It might be difficult to tell if your gloomy mood is a serious issue or something that will pass. 
  • Anxiety levels rise. Those who travel more than half an hour each way to work have more significant stress and anxiety levels than those who commute for less time or do not commute at all. While there isn’t much, you can do to make your commute shorter or remove it entirely. Listening to an engaging audiobook is a great way to make the most of it.
  • Our cardiovascular fitness is deteriorating. According to Texas research, people with longer commutes had poorer cardiovascular fitness and physical activity levels. Cardiovascular activity is essential for heart health and weight management.
  • Your sleep is compromised. According to the Regus Work-Life Balance Index for 2012, those who travel for more than 45 minutes each way have worse sleep quality and are more exhausted than those who commute for less time. Check read our essay, “Why Are Modern Women So Exhausted?” to obtain a better night’s sleep and feel more refreshed, regardless of your commuter status.
  • The pain in your back. Spending hours a week slumped in a vehicle seat (as a driver or a passenger) has detrimental repercussions for your posture and back; commuters are more prone to complain of back and neck discomfort. Check out these six techniques to improve your posture to offset these negative impacts.

How can driving be good for your mental health?

Driving gives us a sense of independence, at least on the surface, particularly if we feel stuck or alone in our homes. Consider your home (those four walls) as your thoughts; going out of them might be advantageous to your mental health (like getting out of your head). Being at home may be stressful; even if there isn’t much to do, our internal stress levels can quickly rise. For many individuals, going for a drive can be terrific stress relief.

Getting in the vehicle or going for a short drive may be beneficial, particularly for people who live in a toxic home environment or have substantial interpersonal troubles. A driver will give a short-term retreat that may help them to relax or clear their heads.

For many individuals, driving without a destination may be a terrific way to unwind. This may provide us time to daydream, reflect, and even solve problems, all of which can benefit our mental health. A change of environment is good for the mind and may re-energize us in a variety of ways by reconnecting us to the outside world. Because some individuals, such as the elderly, cannot engage in a lot of physical activity due to their health, a drive may be equivalent to exercising throughout the day.

The bottom line

We must pay special attention to drivers’ well-being, their body, and their mental well-being. It’s not only about their safety and decreasing the costs of road accidents; we all use the roads, and we all need to share them with compassion to the best of our abilities, acknowledging that some people confront more obstacles than we realise.


Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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