A new study undertaken by LEVC has shown that the quieter driving environment of an electrically-driven vehicle can have significant mental health benefits.
The work, in conjunction with academics from the University of York, has been released during Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) which is focused on stress and stress reduction, and shows that moving from driving diesel to electric vehicles improves mental well-being for commercial vehicle drivers.
In a world first, LEVC commissioned an experiment to monitor mental activity – among a host of other physical factors – of drivers in both the new electrically-driven taxi and previous diesel model to find out if the quiet cabin of the state-of-the-art electric vehicle had an effect on the wellbeing of hard-working taxi drivers.
The test was designed and executed by acoustics expert Dr Duncan Williams of the University of York and took place in central London with four professional cabbies taking to the wheel of both vehicles and undertaking a series of trial drives.
An electroencephalogram, often referred to as a ‘brain cap’, was placed on the head of each driver. Electrodes within the cap monitored brain activity over a set route through the capital, giving previously unseen insight into the differing mental states between drivers of electric and diesel vehicles. Heart rate and audio readings were also taken too.
Driving the electric taxi, cabbies were found to be:
More focussed than when driving the diesel vehicle
Higher levels of beta brain wave activity were recorded by drivers in the electric vehicle, which indicates higher levels of active concentration. In short, while driving the electric taxi, drivers were freed up get on with driving
This was particularly noticeable when vehicles are waiting at traffic lights – a common situation for the London cabbie
Calmer than when driving the diesel vehicle
Heart rate was consistently less variable in the electric taxi than the diesel taxi, indicating greater mental calmness
The electric taxi was a less noisy working environment for the drivers with around 5dB less overall amplitude, and an increased dynamic range in comparison to recordings from the diesel taxi.
Happier than when driving the diesel vehicle
Additional driver survey data showed that the largest improvement over the diesel taxi reported by the drivers was increased happiness
This was followed by reduced stress and less distraction in the electric taxi
All the drivers who took part in the study had already clocked up many miles in the electric TX taxi and were familiar with its controls and driving behaviour.
Chris Gubbey, CEO of LEVC said: “Our aim with the TX was to make the world’s most advanced taxi, a vehicle that would not only help reduce urban air pollution but improve comfort and convenience for passengers and drivers across the globe. We are delighted to find we have made a vehicle that is now proven to also make cabbies’ working lives better.
“Given that cabbies spend up to 12hrs a day driving, the vehicle is their office. We owe them a duty of care to provide the best working environment – and this study shows that driving our electric cab has a clear benefit for mental wellbeing. Next year we will be introducing a new electric light commercial vehicle , which means that the positive health implications of going electric will be extended to professional van drivers too.”
Dr Duncan Williams said: “This study proved hugely interesting. The drivers all reported being calmer, less stressed and happier in the electric taxi than in the old diesel model. Traditionally those feelings would correlate with more Alpha brain waves, which are a good indicator of relaxation. But when we looked at the data, the drivers’ showed more Beta brain waves, an indicator of mental activity and attention.
“What does this mean? Well, the study suggests that the quieter driving environment allowed cabbies to be in a more concentrated state of mind. In other words, by removing the noisy diesel engine rumble, they are perhaps freed up to get on with driving in a more focused, but calm way. It’s a fascinating result and, given the movement towards electric commercial vehicles, shows there are even more benefits of going electric than we might have previously thought.”
The all-new TX is powered by LEVC’s eCity technology comprising of an advanced electric powertrain with a small back-up petrol generator, giving a range of up to 377 miles including 80 miles with zero emissions, helping to improve urban air quality for all Londoners.