Ford proves driving makes you happier than even kissing

Study showed more "buzz moments" during driving than other activities

Published: January 24, 2018, 10:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:04 PM

Happy driver

According to Ford, one of the best ways to feel happy and fulfilled is to drive, and the company has a study to prove it, against other “feel-good” things such as romance, gastronomy and binge viewing your favourite shows.

The company studies “buzz moments,” those exhilarating things that happen during activities and make you remember what a great time you had, long after the activity has passed. It found that going for a spirited drive in a sporty car provides more buzz moments on average than shopping, cheering for your favourite sports team or watching your favourite show. About the only thing it can’t top is riding a roller coaster.

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” explained Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and a sought-after expert for speaking engagements and broadcasting appearances. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Volunteers were sought out for their favourite things to do — watching Game of Thrones, cheering on their favourite football team, salsa dancing, and even making out with their partners — measuring their peak thrills during the activity.

The company customised a Ford Focus RS (reportedly involving 1,400 worker-hours) with wearable and artificial intelligence technology to measure the driver’s emotions during a typical drive. It equipped the car with an emotional AI system that measured driver emotions in real time and translated it into animation using 200,000 LEDs integrated into the car.

It found that during a typical commute, the driver experienced, on average, 2.1 high-intensity moments, which we take to mean the measurements weren’t taken during a typical commute in Toronto, New York or Los Angeles, or just about any major city.

For comparison, the study revealed three “buzz moments” during a roller coaster ride (and are squeezed into a much shorter duration), 1.7 during a shopping spree, and 1.5 each during a Game of Thrones episode or soccer match. Salsa dancing, enjoying a meal at a fine dining establishment, and kissing did not register any peak thrills, though we would argue that the latter sustains the thrill-intensity over a longer period of time than a commute does (even if you’re favourites songs come on the radio).

Although the study may seem like just one of those fun things that draw attention to your brand, it does serve a purpose, says Ford. Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are studying how in-car systems may be able to analyze a driver’s emotions, stress levels, distractions and fatigue, and provide warnings, prompts or even automatically take over control of the car in select situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” concluded Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”