Driving me crazy: the effects of stress on the driving abilities of paramedic students

Trevor Hines Duncliffe, Brittany D'Angelo, Michael Brock, Cal Fraser, Nick Austin, Jake Lamarra, Matt Pusateri, Lauran Livingston, Alan M Batt

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.32378/ijp.v3i2.163



Previous research has demonstrated that stress has a negative impact on the performance of paramedics while performing medical related tasks. Acute stress has also been shown to negatively impact the driving abilities of the general population increasing the number of critical driving errors performed. No literature was discovered that discussed the effects of stress on the driving abilities of paramedics.


Paramedic students underwent a driving ability assessment in a driving simulator. We then exposed them to a stress inducing medical scenario. Another driving assessment was then conducted. The numbers, and types of errors were documented before and after the scenario.


36 students participated in the study. Paramedic students demonstrated no increase in overall error rate after a stressful scenario, but demonstrated an increase in three critical driving errors; failure to wear a seatbelt (3 baseline v 10 post stress, p= 0.0087), failing to stop for red lights or stop signs (7 v 35, p= <0.0001), and losing controlling of the vehicle (2 v 11, p= 0.0052).


Paramedic students demonstrated an increase in critical driving errors after a stressful simulated clinical scenario. Paramedics are routinely exposed to acute stress during the course of their working day. This stress could increase the number of critical driving errors that occur. These results reinforce the need for further research, and highlight the potential need for increased driver training and stress management education in order to mitigate the frequency and severity of driving errors made by paramedics.


Driving; Stress; Paramedic; Paramedic student; Driving Ability; Driving Performance

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.32378/ijp.v3i2.163


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Copyright (c) 2018 Trevor Hines Duncliffe, Brittany D'Angelo, Michael Brock, Cal Fraser, Nick Austin, Jake Lamarra, Matt Pusateri, Lauran Livingston, Alan M Batt

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