Safety Management

Researching methods for lowering driver stress at Rest Areas In Reserve

Research has shown that exposure to nature has emotional and physical benefits. Exposure of as little as ten to fifteen minutes can help to lower blood pressure, elevate mood, lower cortisol levels, and have other physiological benefits. These benefits only increase with the prolonged exposure to not only large natural areas but even smaller simplistic natural settings and even technological simulations. Each rest stop, welcome center, and pull off area can be equipped to help the driver and passengers relax and lower anxiety to increase driver attentiveness, focus, and other benefits that will help to create a safer roadway in New Jersey.

Each rest area varies in size, amenities, usership, staffing, and maintenance. These variances would lead to different methods and avenues to direct the driver to a path of a more relaxed state. Simple low maintenance methods such as informational signage can be used to explain the benefits of taking a recommended amount of time to do the prescribed method of relaxation. These signs would be integrated with the larger rest stops that may have multiple methods to help the driver such as technology displays, garden planting areas, lighting, and music. Staring at fractal images, blue lighting, and listening to bird songs are just some proven technology based methods to lower cortisol levels and help to reduce anxiety and aggressiveness.

The areas to research and develop are the application of the available technology, locations of possible areas of gardens/natural seating areas and paths, information and style for correct and precise signage. There are proven methods to simply evaluate people's cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and other basic physiological functions that are indicators of stress levels that can help to gauge the effectiveness of the proposed methods. The goal is to reduce the stress level of the driver and to educate them on how to correctly and easily lower their stress. By researching what methods can be used to reduce driver and passenger stress we can influence them to not only employ these methods at each rest stop but at any place they may stop.

Idea Submitted by Jonathan Lahoda

List your Agency /Division / Bureau, County, City Univ. or Other Office of Landscape Architecture, NJDOT

Why is this a priority and what are the benefits for the State/County/City?

Stress, anxiety, and fatigue are real factors in unsafe driving. With the increasing number of cars on the road and growing congestion these factors will only increase. By researching methods for lowering driver stress at rest areas we are helping to counteract these distractions and begin a growing movement to not only promote driver safety on the road but off of it too. By understanding what factors can help to reduce driver stress, we can begin to create a culture around driving in New Jersey that can become, over time, as ingrained in the driver's psyche as wearing a seat belt. Rest stops and pull off areas are only the beginning and stepping off point to conduct research that will benefit all drivers, whether directly or indirectly.

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Archive: 2018 Ideas
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Archive: 2018 Ideas
Idea No. 99