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Link between risky driving, anxiety and depression (Australia)

June 2, 2011

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has found that young drivers who experience depression and anxiety are more likely to partake in risks on the road. Researchers from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety led the study, and the results have been published in the international journal Injury Prevention.

The definition of risky driving behaviour includes actions such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and using a mobile phone while at the wheel. According to researchers, there had been no clearly identified or quantified relationship between risky driving behaviour and psychological distress prior to this study.

The study looked at over 760 young drivers who had a provisional driver’s license. They found that 8.5 percent of all risky driving behaviour self-reported by these young drivers was related to anxiety and depression. The relationship was greater in women, where 9.5 percent of this behaviour was linked to distress. Men had 6.7 percent of their risky behaviour related to anxiety and depression.

Researchers believe that in the near future, these findings could be used to screen for psychological distress in youth, especially if they present with injuries related to risky driving behaviour. This could result in tailored interventions for at-risk drivers and improved well-being for young drivers.

For more information on this study, visit the Science Daily press release, “Anxiety and Depression Linked to Risk-Taking in Young Drivers, Australian Study Finds,” May 17, 2011, available atwww.sciencedaily.com.

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