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Hastings Direct news: Managing stress

Driving can be a stressful experience. Whether it's being stuck in traffic, other motorists' actions, or unruly passengers; getting behind the wheel can make even the most placid of people get hot under the collar. As this week's motoring news illustrates, there is a right and wrong way to manage stress on the road.

Drivers yearn for semi-autonomous technologies

reversing woman.

Many believe that the cars of the future will be driverless — and for some drivers that can't come soon enough.

In the meantime motorists are having to make do with semi-autonomous technologies, and research suggests that they are making the most of these features to relieve the stresses of driving.

Ford's Car Buying Trends 2015 analysed new car buying habits in 22 countries across Europe, and revealed considerable increases in the number of cars with automated driving assistance systems.

The research found that one in three Ford cars sold in the last 12 months were fitted with parking systems that help drivers find and navigate into parking spaces.

In keeping with this trend, around twice as many cars were equipped with an automatic braking system, Ford said.

Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and service at Ford of Europe, says this shift towards semi-autonomous technologies is borne out of a longing for stress-free driving experiences.

Parents warned against leaving children in the car

baby in back seat.

The short attention spans of young children can make a car journey a torrid experience, with parents conflicted between keeping their eyes on the road and trying to ensure their little ones are kept occupied.

For nearly a quarter of UK parents it has — at some point — proved altogether too stressful, prompting them to leave their children alone in the car once they've reached their destination, a new study reveals.

One in six of the parents who admitted to doing so said the decision was the result of a less-than-harmonious journey — with locking the kids in the car an act of punishment.

However, child behaviour expert Richard Curtis said the results of the Kwik Fit survey are "very shocking". The only time children should be left in the car is whilst filling up with petrol, he said.

"There are a number of hazards that could pose a risk to children in an unattended vehicle, plus, as this report shows, siblings will often bicker or fight," he explained.

His advice is to never leave an under-12 in the car unattended if the parent hasn't got a line of sight to them. Even when that is the case, they shouldn't be left for more than a few minutes, Curtis added.

Bad driving a major turn-off

shocked passenger.

We touched on the link between driving skills and desirability a couple of weeks ago, but the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has now conducted more thorough research into people's instinctive reactions to bad driving.

The results are bad news for drivers who may have thought aggressive driving was a way to somebody's heart, with four out of five women and nearly half of men found to be physically turned off by bad driving.

However, men appear to be more forgiving of a questionable driving style than women — but behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings says this is evidence "that men have a less mature emotional response to bad driving than women".

"It's evident that women have a stronger negative reaction to bad driving than men, and find bad drivers considerably less attractive as a result," she concluded.

Interestingly, the top driving behaviour turn-off for women was illegal overtaking, while for men it was the three-point turn. Both genders agreed, though, that texting while driving makes a person distinctly undesirable.

Young drivers being distracted by in-car calls

driver on phone.

Perhaps the desirability factor can act as some incentive for the UK's young drivers to stop using their mobile while driving. A new survey by road safety charity Brake has revealed that the 17-24 age group are the most likely to make an in-car call.

Rather than just look at hand-held calls made by drivers, Brake included hands-free calls too, with the campaign group keen to raise awareness that both types can be a distraction.

Of the 1,000 drivers from across the UK questioned on whether they had spoken on the phone while driving, hand-held or hands-free, in the past year, nearly half (49%) of the motorists in the 17-24 category said they made work-related calls while on the road.

That figure fell to 17% when all motorists were taken into consideration.

"Our appeal to drivers this weekend, and year-round, is take regular breaks, at least every two hours, and use these for calls and to recharge," was the advice given by Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake.

"No call or message is so important that it can't wait until you're safely off the road," she added.

© M2 Bespoke 2015