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Relax to help avoid car collisions

Harold Mandel's picture
Woman driving a car

A new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has demonstrated there are much higher odds of being in a motor vehicle accident among drivers who are angry and aggressive.


Car accidents are a leading cause of serious injuries and deaths. Safe driving is therefore encouraged to save lives on the road.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada reports there is a higher risk of automobile collisions in angry drivers. It has been shown in a new study that there are much greater odds for angry, aggressive drivers to get in an automobile collision than those drivers who don’t get angry while they are driving.

There may be an increased risk for collision with even minor aggression

Lead author Dr. Christine Wickens, who is a scientist in CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, says there can be an increased risk for collision with even minor aggression such as swearing and yelling or making gestures which are rude. The drivers in the study who manifested high degrees of aggression had a 78 percent increased odds of getting into a collision than those whose aggression was considered to be minor. The high risk with a lot of aggression was comparable to the risk for those drivers who use cannabis.

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Dr. Wickens has commented that it was really striking how the risk of collision increased as the levels of aggression increased. There was the lowest odds of collision in people who reported they had no driving associated aggression. The risk increased as levels of aggression increased.

According to Dr. Wickens the results of the study demonstrate that aggression is associated with risk of collision. It has been suggested by the strong association that drivers may have an increased chance of a collision because they either drive more aggressively or because their anger distracts them from other hazards which exist on the road.

Collisions would potentially be lower with decreased anger

It is the position of Dr. Wickens that the risk of collisions would potentially be lower with decreased anger and aggression in drivers. Some well established natural remedies to help manage stress and anger include deep breathing techniques and listening to music. Cognitive anger management programs also seem to help. The researchers feel leaving enough time while on a car trip to reach your destination also helps to lower stress.

The study has been published in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. The researchers observed that there are decreased odds of an automobile crash with the absence of driver aggression. There appears to be a dose-response relationship between degrees of driver aggression and odds of an automobile crash occurring. It is clearly a good idea to learn to handle your stress well if you want to be a safe driver.