/ Motoring

Would more ‘exciting’ roads make driving safer?

Car driving at night

Around a third of drivers admit to taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel to combat boredom, according to a new study. So would it be safer to make our roads more exciting and engaging to drive on?

The research, conducted by Newcastle University, surveyed 1,563 drivers and found 31% of them fell into the category of ‘easily bored, nervous and dangerous’.

These motorists admitted to actively speeding or overtaking to seek excitement. These bored drivers are most likely to have an accident, or so says the research.

Are safer roads actually more dangerous?

As a result of the findings, Newcastle University has suggested that efforts to make roads safer could unintentionally provoke more accidents, as people looked to alleviate boredom behind the wheel.

So could more complicated roads and an increase in the number of obstacles potentially reduce accident numbers? Lead researcher Dr Joan Harvey thinks so:

‘Contrary to what you might expect when driving, hazards can actually increase our attention to the road, so this may well be the way forward for planners.’

The problem is, this will be a difficult concept for many to grasp. Should we really encourage more challenging road designs to improve driving awareness? And how much research would be required to guarantee funding for the development of these sorts of roads?

Driving almost every day, I witness examples of appalling driving. So if you asked me if I thought every driver was capable of coping with more difficult and demanding roads, my answer would be ‘no’.

There’d have to be big changes in the testing and education process of driving if this was actually going to work.

Arthur Boon says:
10 January 2011

When driving a car, it should be recognised that the car is potentially a lethal weapon. It should never be driven to gain excitement. Respect for other road users and pedestrians should be the paramount thought of all drivers.

I agree with Arthur

Dr Joan Harvey needs to take her doctorate again.

The vast majority of drivers have crashes during their regular daily driving – If they are “bored, nervous and dangerous” they shouldn’t be driving at all.

From what I’ve seen of daily driving – a sizeable number of drivers shouldn’t.

Pickle says:
10 January 2011

Removing signs, traffic lights etc. would make drivers concentrate more on road conditions and be a lot more careful how they drive. True, this would cause more accidents at first, but it wouldn’t be long before the lessons sink in.
This has been done in one or two towns in Europe – with considerable success.
The plethoria of signs is such that most are ignored – you wouldn’t get anywhere if you looked carefully at each sign and decided what to do next

Clogboy says:
10 January 2011

While I agree that driving a car shouldn’t be considered a cheap thrill, I would suggest that routine is the number one killer. That and fear, hesitation etc. One should explore their limits and that of their car in a controled environment to keep a cool head at all times, and I think a skid course would help achieve that.
Admittedly I take the more challenging way home (with less traffic) when I need to put my mind on something beside work. But at all times I behave in such a way that I can comfortably be held accountable for my own actions. It’s just that some days it leaves more room for a challenging driving experience than other days. And drivers. I’m in two minds. While less confident drivers need to be protected against themself it doesn’t mean a person should be stripped from opportunities to take responsibillity.
So in all, isn’t it about time to raise the bar for attaining a driving license and restrict driving to capable, sane drivers? Let’s say, the same requirements as for attaining a gun permit?

John says:
14 January 2011

I do a lot of driving – about 50k pa – which I’ve done for the last 20yrs. When I’m tired I dislike being on boring roads, so I manage that vulnerability by one or more of the following :
1 Fisherman’s friends
2 Turn the climate control to 19
3 Drive faster to sharpen my senses
We’re human – we respond to stimulation & it sharpens our senses. We’re not good with monotony – go ask your partner if “you know what” is the “same old same old”, because its monotonous. Newcastle’s research certainly rings familiar tones with my experience.

Chris says:
3 March 2011

3. Drive faster to sharpen my senses.

Interesting – as thats almost the same as i used to think when i was doing high mileage: bored = sleepy & thats not good. So “more risky” driving pushes up the adrenaline & keeps it at bay for a while. I certainly stopped a fair few times to sleep, but there is a place for a faster drive in combating boredom. I’m not proud of it, but i’m still here. Others may not have been so lucky

One example of this is the baffles they put on the approach to some roundabouts, so you can’t look early and maintain a fast approach. In terms of visibility it reduces safety, but it also makes you slow down.

Gordon says:
25 January 2011

Roads don’t cause accidents. Accidents happen when inexperienced, inept and inattentive drivers fail to drive to suit the conditions. We can all be guilty of ‘inattentive’ at times and challenging road conditions would surely help us stay interested. And sort out the men from the boys!

I hate to mention Holland and Germany again, but I will.

In all suburbs, where there are no traffic lights, there are no road markings. So when driving through suburban areas, your attention is higher as you are always looking for things which can pull out on you. Its a much better idea rather than trying to read all the signs AND concentrate on your speedo, not to mention their garish appearance, the actual crash hazard of the sign itself and the fact that many of them contradict themselves.

I love driving, i love the thrill of driving and the feeling of becoming one with a machine. I have driven 10 hot laps of the Nuerburgring Nordschleife, but I will never drive beyond the capabilities of a car and the road.
I currently drive a Saab turbo which is blistering in a straight line, but if it is slightly damp, or not fully straight, I take it easy.
I would say yes I do take risks on the road to spice up the journey, they are calculated risks though usually just done to get past someone who can’t see over the steering wheel or who insists on driving 30 in a 50.
The country roads in England and Wales are the best in the world