Beware when danger on the road has passed. The state of relief impairs a driver’s ability to avoid accidents

A driver is often required to react adequately to sudden, dangerous situations. If the driver successfully negotiates the challenge, a state of emotional relief is then experienced that arises at the moment the strong fear dissipates. Previous experimental studies described in the psychological literature have shown that in a state of relief, people exhibit a decline in cognitive functioning. The article's authors posed the question of how well a driver functions in this unique state. They conducted research using an AutoSim AS 1200-6 driving simulator in two road conditions: outside the city and in urban driving conditions. In fear-then-relief conditions, a few seconds after the driver managed to avoid an accident, another difficult situation arose on the road. It was examined how frequently a collision takes place in such a situation in comparison to a group that did not experience a state of relief resulting from the avoidance of an earlier accident. It occurred that while being outside the city the likelihood of an accident grew with the speed at which the car was traveling. The state of relief, however, did not lead to any disruptions in a driver's functioning in those conditions. In urban driving conditions the likelihood was not, however, associated with speed. Yet the emotional condition of the driver was of importance. There was a nearly three-fold increase in the probability that the driver would fail to avoid an accident in fear-then relief conditions when compared to control conditions. This is entirely consistent with earlier studies demonstrating disruptions in the cognitive functioning of people experiencing relief. The practical implications of these results are discussed.


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  • Accession Number: 01669638
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 19 2018 4:14PM