THE Christmas and New Year season is when Britain’s motorists enjoy driving the most, according to research by online car retailer heycar.
A massive 66 per cent said that getting behind the wheel over the festive period beats any other time of the year. And 45 per cent reckoned hitting the road was essential to get the most out of the holiday season.
Some 52 per cent go for a leisure drive during the period when roads are typically less busy, while 34 per cent decorate their cars for Christmas.
The findings come as heycar set out to explore the emotions driving evokes as millions of us were reunited with loved ones following the disruption of the pandemic.
The study discovered that driving boosts the nation’s mental wellbeing, with 35 per cent believing that getting behind the wheel has a positive impact on this. Meanwhile, 43 per cent said that going on a solo drive helped them combat stress.
The survey of 3500 adults from the online car marketplace also found that happiness (38 per cent) was the primary feeling the nation experiences when at the wheel, followed by a sense of calm (30 per cent).
A further 19 per cent found it exciting, while for 13 per cent driving was a source of anxiety. And 10 per cent said it made them feel nervous, with four per cent left feeling angry.
Dr Megan Barnard, from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology, is a renowned expert on the link between driving and happiness.
She explained: “The act of being in the driving seat has a really significant and immediate effect on our mood.
“It provides us with the sense that this is an environment that we are fully in control of and comfortable in, which are key factors in contributing to feelings of happiness.
“By the same token, when we feel most unhappy on the road, that is generally as a result of actions that are beyond our control – primarily other road users.”
The study also explored the nation’s most feel-good moments when going out motoring. Driving on an empty road took the top spot, chosen by 51 per cent.
The delight of arriving earlier than expected at your destination followed, with 36 per cent, while a smooth reverse into a parking space took third place with 22 per cent.
For 11 per cent, the best moment comes from gliding on to a motorway from a slip road, while for six per cent it is overtaking someone.
The nation’s favourite way to while away time behind the wheel is by listening to music (70 per cent). However, singing is the preferred option for 21 per cent.
Some 15 per cent enjoy listening to live sport, while 14 per cent opt for a podcast. For a studious five per cent, their time is spent learning a language.
Dan Powell, senior editor at heycar, said: “As we were reunited with loved ones this Christmas, we have been really heartened to discover how driving is a source of such happiness for so many, while also playing such a significant role in boosting the mental wellbeing of the nation.
“At heycar, our ambition has always been to put the feel-good factor back into car-buying through a stand-out experience for all our customers. We’re delighted that so many motorists share that feeling.”