Audi's Road Frustration Index Quantifies Driver Stress

Just the Facts:
  • Audi's new Road Frustration Index shows that urban driving can be as stressful as skydiving.
  • A researcher gets sideswiped in traffic and then jumps out of an airplane to compare the two events.
  • Audi said the exercise is designed to "anticipate the needs for future mobility."

HERNDON, Virginia — Audi's new Road Frustration Index shows that urban driving can be as stressful as skydiving.

The German automaker actually compared the two situations. In a YouTube video, Audi shows a researcher getting sideswiped in Boston traffic while driving and then shows the same man jumping out of an airplane.

The Road Frustration Index "seeks to narrow in on the individual factors that lead to driver frustration, providing Audi with insight toward finding solutions that make driving safer and more enjoyable," said Audi of America in a statement. "This new methodology quantifies and contextualizes driver stress and frustration using skin conductance sensors, facial/body tracking and environmental recordings."

Driving and skydiving were compared with other activities, including eating breakfast and attending an economics class.

Audi partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the study.

Clearly, Audi is not the first to identify the problem of aggressive driving and road rage and to work toward solutions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." It offers several low-tech solutions to the problem on its Web site, including "use public transportation" and "tune the radio to your favorite relaxing music."

Audi says it wants to "anticipate the needs for future mobility," though.

"Cities, blanketed with networks and digital devices, are developing new forms of intelligence," said Professor Carlo Ratti, director of MIT SENSEable City Laboratory. "The same is happening inside our cars, which are increasingly filled with different kinds of connected sensors."

"From the intersection of these two trends will emerge tomorrow's mobility systems — starting from the next generation of autonomous vehicles."

Edmunds says: Audi study gets a jump on driver safety.

Leave a Comment