Depressed Young Adults Are More Likely to Take Risks While Driving

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Teenagers and young adults who suffer from anxiety or depression are more likely to take risks while driving, according to a new study.

A team of researchers led by Bridie Scott-Parker from the Queensland University of Technology followed more than 760 young drivers and found that anxiety and depression accounted for a significant increase in risky driving behavior.

Additionally, they found the association between mental health and risky driving was greater for women than men.

The study adds to previous research that has found that anxiety and depression are linked with other risky behaviors by adolescents such as unprotected sex, smoking and high alcohol consumption.

“What this study sought to do was look at whether or not psychological distress could also be linked to risky driving behaviors in young people, such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone while at the wheel,” said Scott-Parker.

According to Scott-Parker, this research could be used to identify young drivers most at risk of psychological distress and therefore a greater crash risk on the road through risky driving.

“These drivers could be targeted with specific road safety countermeasures and efforts made to improve their mental wellbeing by monitoring them for signs of depression and anxiety,” she said.

The study was published in Injury Prevention.