The quieter driving environment of an electric vehicle can have significant mental health benefits on the driver, a study by LEVC (London EV Company) has found.
The study involved monitoring mental activity and other physical factors of drivers in both the new electrically-driven TX taxi and previous diesel model to find out if the quiet cabin of the EV had an effect on the wellbeing of 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, or ‘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 a diesel vehicle and higher levels of beta brain wave activity were recorded by drivers in the electric vehicle, which indicates higher levels of active concentration. This was particularly noticeable when vehicles are waiting at traffic lights.
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.
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
Chris Gubbey, CEO of LEVC said: “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.”
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.
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.