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Europe’s most stressful cities to drive in 

stressful cities to drive in 


DiscoverCars.com has put together a new piece of research to find where Europe’s most stressed drivers are, measuring the heart rates of drivers in different cities across the continent.

The research is supported by practising medical doctor Dr Adedeji Saheed, who provided insights into the drivers’ heart rates.

Aleksandrs Buraks, Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com, comments: 

“We were interested to find out which cities are causing drivers the most stress, and would like to say thank you to all the drivers for taking part in our research. You can see from their heart rates speeding up and slowing down that a normal half-hour drive through the city you live in or are visiting can be anything from fairly relaxing to a very stressful experience. Of course, this will depend on a number of factors, both related to the city itself and more to do with the day you’re already having. It could be traffic on the roads, the condition of the roads themselves, the behaviour of other drivers or something else that’s personal to you, such as an upcoming deadline at work. 

“Our research revealed that the least stressful city to drive in is Krakow in Poland and the most stressful is Oslo in Norway. While all cities are prone to crowded roads at times, anecdotally, some cities are much busier than others. 

“We also provided an idea for a road trip to a quiet nature spot or small town for each of the cities – from Oslo, we suggested that drivers take a trip to the Bygdoy Peninsula. Getting there only takes about half an hour, and once there, you can take a stroll on the beach, or head to the Kongeskogen, the King’s Forest, to enjoy the walking trails.”

DiscoverCars.com created the ranking by first creating an average of each driver’s lowest driving and resting heart rate, and highest driving and resting heart rate. Then, subtracting the average low rate from the average high rate provides a number DiscoverCars.com used as a ‘Stress Rating’. 

Oslo, Norway ranked as the most stressful city to drive in, with a Stress Rating of 37.5. Dr Adedeji Saheed’s insight into this driver’s heart rate was that their resting heart rate hit 99 bpm at times, which is on the higher end of the normal range, and could be indicative of stress, anxiety, a medical condition or recent caffeine intake. Oslo is known to have some narrow roads which can make navigating the city difficult or slow – could this have influenced the driver’s level of stress?

In second place is Lisbon, Portugal with a Stress Rating of 36, only just behind Oslo. This driver’s heart rate while at rest reached 122 bpm, which is above the range that is expected. Lisbon is well known for having some narrow and twisty roads which could cause drivers here stress.

Milan, Italy has a Stress Rating of 30. This driver’s heart rates were within the normal range but their highest heart rate was 99 bpm while driving –  is over 20 bpm faster than their slowest heart rate while driving. This would suggest that something may have happened during their journey to stress them out.

Next is London, UK with a Stress Rating of 29.5. Almost exactly in the middle of the ranking, this driver’s heart rate readings were all within the expected range. This city’s roads can become very congested, and many locals and visitors alike choose to travel by the Underground instead. 

With a Stress Rating of 25.5, Budapest, Hungary falls right in the middle of the ranking. The driver’s heart rate was in the normal range, but was a little high at times, reaching 90 bpm at rest. While the city’s roads are generally in good condition, drivers here say parking can be difficult to find. 

Munich, Germany has a Stress Rating of 21.5. All of the heart rate readings from this driver were in the normal range – on the lower end of the scale – with Dr Adedeji Saheed commenting that there was no cause for concern. 

The third least stressful city to drive in is Prague, Czech Republic which scored a Stress Rating of 20, only just below that of Munich. While the driver’s highest heart rate while driving was 119 bpm, which might sound high, their lowest heart rate at rest was 71 bpm, meaning there was not as much of a difference in the readings they provided. Prague is connected by a well maintained motorway system.

Barcelona, Spain has a Stress Rating of only 16. This driver’s fastest heart rate was 74 bpm, compared to 50 bpm at its slowest while they were resting. Dr Saheed advised that heart rates as low as this can be a sign of health in people with an athletic lifestyle – but he also advised that for some people it can indicate that they are experiencing ‘bradycardia’. If someone’s heart rate is too slow, it could mean that oxygenated blood is not being sent around their body fast enough. 

Finally, the least stressful city to drive in is Krakow, Poland with a Stress Rating of 9.5. This driver’s heart rate readings were within the normal range, although their resting heart rate was a little high at times, with a low of 84 bpm. Their heart rate did not spike much on their journey. Poland’s 2014-2023 National Road Construction Programme has led to the creation of lots of new roads and highways, which could be a contributing factor that makes driving less stressful in the country. 

DiscoverCars.com also provided some hints and tips for how to reduce your stress while you’re driving.

They recommended listening to music as long as it isn’t distracting. 

If you’re on a journey that’s several hours long or longer, it’s important to take enough breaks while driving. Clear your mind, stretch your legs and have some food and drink. It will provide you with a reset and break up the journey into manageable chunks.

Setting off with plenty of time to spare is another tactic that will help keep your journey calm. 

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