London: A new study has shown that anxiety and depression do not play a role in teen motor vehicle accidents.
“Psychological distress does not appear to pose the risk we thought it did for motor vehicle crash in young people,” said lead author Alexandra Martiniuk, a senior research fellow at the George Institute for International Health at the University of Sydney in Australia.
The study followed 20,822 new drivers in New South Wales for two years. Participants from ages 17 to 24 reported whether they had symptoms of psychological distress, such as nervousness, restlessness, depression or sadness.
Researchers used police database records to link teens’ responses to future motor vehicle crashes.
During the study, 1,495 teens and young adults had one or more crashes and 289 had a single crash, but stress levels did not appear to raise a teen’s risk.
“No group of young drivers with psychological distress had an increased risk of crash. We did not find an increased risk of motor vehicle crash for young drivers who had severe psychological distress — a level of distress that correlates with a mental health diagnosis,” Martiniuk said.
In fact, teens with some anxiety or depression were 15 per cent less apt to crash their vehicles over the two-year period, Martiniuk said.
The authors theorised that young drivers with symptoms of mild anxiety and depression might be less prone to take risks and more likely to be vigilant behind the wheel.
The study appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health .