Could electric vehicles help reduce driver stress?

London's TX plug-in black cab photo
Video screen capture Fully Charged

Study suggests EVs' quiet ride allows drivers to better focus.

When I recently misjudged my range driving out of the mountains of North Carolina, I was not exactly calm. But as a driver of two different plug-in vehicles, I can say that the genuinely quiet ride and smooth, linear throttle response make for a decidedly pleasant, predictable and stress-free driving experience.

Now Electrek reports on a study—commissioned, admittedly, by the London Electric Vehicle Company—which claims electric powertrains may offer significant mental health benefits to their drivers. Now, before we get any further we should acknowledge this was a study involving four drivers, and commissioned by a company that builds plug-in versions of London's iconic black cab. So your bias radar should be well and truly engaged.

But still, the results of the effort—which involved monitoring drivers' brain activity and comparing how it differed between electric and diesel cabs—are not dissimilar to what I'd expect from my own experiences of driving electric. Specifically, when driving electric, drivers showed higher levels of active concentration, less variable heart rates and even increased reported levels of happiness. The study was led by Dr. Duncan Williams of the University of York, who posited that the quieter working environment (a reduction of 5dB amplitude compared to diesel) was the most likely cause of the positive impacts.

Like I say, this is a limited study based on one vehicle type, and commissioned by a company with skin in the game. So I'm certainly not presenting this as definitive evidence. It is, however, an interesting potential benefit of electric vehicles beyond their environmental impact. As everything from buses to delivery vehicles go electric, drivers may just reap the mental health benefits. (Assuming, that is, they are not too busy about robot vehicles stealing their jobs...)

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