According to new research, 70% of motorists believe that a quieter cabin would help improve their mood and reduce stress during the time they spend in the car.
The findings suggest that making journeys in an electric vehicle – renowned for the quietness of their interiors compared with road cars powered by internal combustion engines – can help keep driver and passengers happier.
The findings are the result of new research released today by the Go Ultra Low campaign, set up by the UK automotive industry and the public sector to highlight the benefits of ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEVs).
Tests performed by car manufacturers in the Go Ultra Low consortium showed that interior noise levels of electric vehicles and their conventionally-powered equivalents can vary by up to 6dB(A) – a significantly audible difference.
The new research also found that 74% of the UK’s car-driving population above 30 years-old desire “more ‘quiet time’ in everyday life”, with 83% of the same group believing that “Britain is a much nosier place compared with 10 years ago”.
Commenting on the findings, motoring journalist Quentin Willson said: “When you start driving an electric vehicle the first thing you notice is the quietness of the cabin. Rather than it being a novelty, this can have a positive effect on your well-being. We all know how stressful car travel can be – I’ve found the electric motor can turn journeys into a zen-like experience!”
According to noise experts, fluctuations in sound levels can have a real impact on our emotions.
Professor Duncan Williams, psycho-acoustician at Plymouth University, said: “Many of the sounds people find most annoying and stressful are dynamic – this is no surprise as humans are neurologically ‘hard-wired’ to respond to such noise. What makes this annoying is when the noises are beyond our control – they are basically unwelcome intruders into our personal space.”
While the research found that the ability to enjoy a ‘quiet’ car journey is important to the majority of motorists, eight out of 10 participants also believed that a reduction in car engine noise would allow them to hold better conversations with passengers and increase their enjoyment of music.
“Music has been shown to be a great mediator of moods,” added Professor Williams. “It has a clear effect on the brain, and is often prescribed in therapeutic contexts.”