Psychological Impact of Car Accidents Examined in New Study

Respondents often said they wanted psychological comfort from trained professionals soon after a severe car accident.

A new study seeks to better examine the emotional and psychological impact of auto accidents, looking beyond the more often researched physical injuries experienced by drivers and passengers.

The research was conducted by RoadSafetyUAE, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) road safety improvement initiative, in partnership with OnStar, and involved focus groups with 46 people who had been involved in “emergency on-road incidents”.

Participants were asked questions regarding their thoughts on modern safety features, such as connected car services like OnStar, as well as their emotional states immediately following traumatic auto accidents, to help better understand the best ways to assist victims after a crash.

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While one in three respondents were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with modern vehicle safety features, like airbags and automated braking systems that help to either avoid accidents or lessen physical damage, they also expressed great interest in having more immediate access to emotional support and reassurance following a traumatic car accident.

Many of those interviewed mentioned strong feelings of fear, bewilderment, and confusion immediately following an accident.

Those who had been traveling with friends or family in the car discussed having significantly greater concern for the safety of those traveling with them than they did for themselves.

Two out of every three respondents said they would prefer receiving emotional support from connected car services like OnStar, to help calm them down, as opposed to being directly connected to medical assistance.

Though most said they were able to contact emergency services themselves immediately following their auto accident, one in five participants indicated they were in such a state of shock that their decision-making ability was greatly impaired.

Others indicated they were unable to call for assistance due to being either unconscious or in a physical state that prevented such action. Some of those interviewed mentioned how they could not remember much at all from those first few moments following the crash.

Respondents were asked specifically what kind of support they remember wanting in the moments following their accidents. Two out of three said they wanted someone to comfort them and calm them down. They also expressed a preference for trained professionals, over bystanders who may have been able to offer practical care, as most respondents indicated that they did not truly feel comforted until trained professionals were available. A strong desire to speak to a friend, family member, or spouse for reassurance and emotional support was reported by 17 of those interviewed.

Though the study was conducted in the United Arab Emirates, the feelings described by the participants may provide much-needed insight into the emotional and psychological trauma suffered by auto accident survivors worldwide, the researchers indicated.


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