Driving Under the Influence of Depression

Teens with depression and anxiety tend to take risks on the road

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Teens are not known as the safest drivers on the road. Far from it. Add anxiety or depression, and their driving becomes even riskier. A new study shows that young drivers who experience anxiety and depression are at risk of being risky drivers.

"We already know that psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression, has been linked to risky behaviour in adolescents including unprotected sex, smoking and high alcohol consumption," says Bridie Scott-Parker, from Queensland University of Technology Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety.

"Teens with mental health issues take more risks while driving."

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

The relationship between mental illness and driving habits had never been studied or analyzed before. This study found that nearly 10 percent of young drivers reported psychological distress as the cause of their risky driving.

"Identifying at risk individuals is vital," Scott-Parker said."Once identified, interventions could be tailored to target particular groups of at-risk drivers and also from a mental health perspective this may result in improved well-being for the adolescent young driver," she added.

The Study

  • More than 760 young drivers were studied
  • Anxiety and depression accounted for 8.5 percent of the risky driving behavior reported
  • Association greater in women than men
  • 9.5 percent of  women vs. 6.7 percent of men blamed psychological distress for their unsafe driving
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 18, 2011
Last Updated:
May 19, 2011