Here's how stress can be a distraction on the road

Posted at 5:49 AM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 07:01:20-04

(WXYZ) — April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and distracted driving comes in all forms.

It can be texting or eating to reading and putting on makeup in the car.

But driving while stressed out is also considered distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in 2020 there were 14,236 motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver and 48 of those crashes resulted in a fatality.

So General Motors is teaming up with the Governors Highway Safety Administration to help combat distracted driving.

"We really want to bring awareness to the fact that distractions can be more than texting. More than having a cheeseburger in your vehicle. Really, we need to be cognizant of our emotional state while we are out on the road," Tricia Morrow with General Motors said.

That's where the 'Scream It Out' challenge comes into play. A challenge started by GM after seeing a rise in anxiety and stress due to an increase in traffic deaths.

GM and the McCann World Group did a study with 3,000 drivers in the U.S. and they found that 40% of respondents feel more anxious than they did before the pandemic.

"We found that 54% of respondents indicated they had cited times they were crying in their vehicle. And about a 1/3 mentioned they had to pull over because they were too emotional to drive," Morrow added.

Paul Green, a research scientist, and leader at the Human Factors Engineering Group at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute says he has an idea that could be a major key in solving these problems.

"Having a better understanding of just how people drive. It's more science and difficult to convince people sometimes to focus on this. But there's questions like how difficult is it to drive in this situation? How do we measure the workload of the driving task because we are thinking about stress and distraction? And that's layered on the basic task of driving," he said.

Douglas Ispy also noticed people's emotions are running higher since the pandemic but offers his advice on how to deal with stress.

"Before I get in my car, I say a prayer because now in these days, since the COVID-19 pandemic, there's so much stress out here and you have to be careful," he said.