The world’s most stressful cities to drive in

The world’s most stressful cities to drive in

It can be stressful to drive in busy cities, in fact, 9 out of 10 drivers admit to feeling stressed or angry behind the wheel (from Brake).

It’s overstimulation of noise, movement and high-pressure situations that contributes to stress bubbling away whilst you try and navigate simultaneously. But which are the most stressful cities to drive in and what contributes to that stress?

Calculating the most stressful cities

We ranked the 36 most populated cities in the world based on several factors to establish which were the most challenging for drivers.

The considerations were; the number of cars per capita, total number of vehicles in the city, severity of traffic congestion, quality of the roads, public transportation options, number of traffic accidents per year and the city density. These factors then received an overall score out of 10 (with 10 being the highest point of stress) to determine which cities topped the stress charts.

Here are the results of the most - and least - stressful cities in the world to drive in based on hiyacar’s score out of 10:

  1. Mumbai, India: 7.4
  2. Paris, France: 6.4
  3. Jakarta, Indonesia: 6.0
  4. Delhi, India: 5.9
  5. New York, United States: 5.6
  6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 5.3
  7. Nagoya, Japan: 5.1
  8. London, United Kingdom: 5.0
  9. Mexico City, Mexico: 4.9
  10. Osaka, Japan: 4.9
  11. Bangalore, India: 4.7
  12. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 4.7
  13. Bangkok, Thailand: 4.7
  14. Chicago, United States: 4.7
  15. Tokyo, Japan: 4.7
  16. Istanbul, Turkey: 4.6
  17. Manila, Philippines: 4.4
  18. Moscow, Russia: 4.4
  19. Los Angeles, United States: 4.3
  20. Cairo, Egypt: 4.0
  21. Guangzhou, China: 3.7
  22. Beijing, China: 3.6
  23. Chongqing, China: 3.6
  24. Hong Kong, China: 3.3
  25. Wuhan, China: 3.3
  26. Chengdu, China: 3.1
  27. Shanghai, China: 3.1
  28. Buenos Aires, Argentina: 3.0
  29. Shenzhen, China: 2.9
  30. Bogotá, Colombia: 2.7
  31. Nanjing, China: 2.7
  32. São Paulo, Brazil: 2.7
  33. Hangzhou, China: 2.6
  34. Tianjin, China: 2.6
  35. Dongguan, China: 2.4
  36. Lima, Peru: 2.1

Mumbai’s population is 12,478,447 packed into 603 square kilometres which averages at 20,694 people per square kilometre compared to London’s much more comfortable 5,614 people per square kilometre. Furthermore, Mumbai’s roads are crowded with 57,500,000 cars on the city streets and a 53% congestion ranking, second only to Moscow. In second place, Paris hosts 20,460 people per square kilometre and is home to 32,005,986 cars. A whole point higher in road quality and a much lower congestion ranking of 32% means that Paris is the most stressful city to drive in across Europe.

What else contributes to driving stress?

Congestion, running late, accidents, that split second you have to make a decision - driving can cause huge stress but are some other contributing factors?

Lack of road awareness

When we aren’t paying attention on the road, it can leave us vulnerable to surprises which, in turn, elevate stress levels quickly and with little mercy. Small incidents add up such as pushing through an amber light or driving too close to the driver ahead.

Other drivers

To most drivers, inconsiderate road users cause the most stress. When they cut you off, don’t indicate or drive so close to your bumper they may as well be in the same car, it can infuriate the calmest of us.

Getting lost

Sat nav is great when it works and the most frustrating creation when it doesn’t. One way systems in the middle of cities, wrong turns and road works confuse and misdirect which can skyrocket stress.

How to fight the stress

Stressed out drivers are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents because they are unfocused. Here are some tools to destress whilst driving;

Deep breaths

Simple and effective. Take a deep breath through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Do this 10 times to feel a calming effect. Great for those bumper to bumper situations!

Change your position

If you’re stressed you’re likely to be gripping the steering wheel and hunched over. Try to lean back, loosen your grip and adjust your seat to find a more comfortable position to give your body space to relax.

Music is a great healer

Listen to your favourite music, sing if it helps! Turn off the news and take a moment to enjoy the time you have before you rush off to your next appointment.

Turn off your phone

The additional distraction is unnecessary. If you’re going to sit in gridlock for a while, don’t let it tempt you. Instead, take some deep breaths, adjust your position and listen to some great tunes!

Peer to peer car sharing

Busy cities are geared up to become more stressful as the growing population means more cars on the road. Co-founder and CEO of hiyacar Graeme Risby feels that “Adopting peer to peer car sharing in our day to day lives would be a step in the right direction to decrease the impact factors causing driving stress.”


Methodology: Every factor for each city was made into a percentage of the sum of the total factors for all cities, this percentage was then scored out of 10.

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