Scientists fitted ten motorists (five men, five women) with heart-rate monitors, head-mounted video cameras and sensors to measure brain activity. The drivers were then sent on two 30-minute journeys against rush hour traffic with a strict deadline - one trip with a passenger, one without.
The results showed that the heart-rates of the solitary drivers increased fastest at the start of the trip, whilst the heart rate of those with a passenger returned to normal faster at the end of the trip. A similar test using finger sensors came up with the same results.
"It does begin to suggest that car-sharing is both a more driver-friendly way to commute and also a more environmentally friendly one," the researchers concluded.
"I would vote for that," agreed Stephen Joseph, executive director of the environmental lobby group, the Campaign for Better Transport. "Travelling with people is a lot better than travelling on your own.
"Car-sharing is better for stress and the environment and for these reasons the Department for Transport should be looking to promote this rather than leaving it for the private sector.
"Around 90 per cent of journeys are made by people driving on their own; think of the amount of stress that they could be relieved by lift-sharing."
Jo, a car-sharer from Patcham, agrees: "Good conversation makes the journey go quicker and takes the frustration away when stuck in traffic."
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