One in five motorists suffers from car sickness

Reading in the car is the biggest trigger of nausea according to survey


More than seven million UK adults suffer from some form of travel sickness in the car, according to a new RAC survey.

The motoring organisation quizzed 1,990 people and found that nearly one in five of them suffered from the problem – usually associated with youngsters – either as drivers or passengers.

That figure equates to 7.3 million UK adults, based on there being more than 40 million full driving licence holders.

Other findings of the survey will be familiar to anybody who’s ever had to deal with car sickness – either in themselves or a passenger. Of those affected, 75% said they felt the worst nausea when in the back seat, while 12% found the front seat to be the worst place. 7% said it made no difference.


It’s not just seating position within the car that affects sickness levels either. 61% said that reading in the car made them feel the most nauseous, followed by 50% who felt a mobile phone or tablet affected them worse.

More than a third (37%) blamed the sensation of a twisting country road for unsettling their stomach, while 32% said it was a lack of ventilation.

Luckily, drivers appear to be an understanding bunch – whether that’s for the comfort of their passengers or the preservation of their upholstery. 37% of drivers have taken a break to help a passenger alleviate their car sickness, and 2% have abandoned or avoided journeys altogether.

Despite travel sickness being rather common, almost half (48%) have never had medical help. 13% have resorted to over-the-counter medication or alternative remedies such as eating ginger, while only a desperate 2% have sought the help of their doctor.

However, almost a quarter (24%) say they simply have their own ways of coping with travel sickness. Suggested remedies involved closing their eyes, trying to sleep or focusing intently on the horizon.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “While car sickness is often associated with younger children, our research suggests it still remains a problem for a substantial number of older drivers and passengers.

“While people suffer from sickness to different degrees, there is a lot that passengers in particular can do to reduce the chances of feeling unwell while on the move.”

He suggested putting down any books or tablets, focusing on the horizon and winding down a window for a flow of fresh air.

“A smoother driving style can also pay dividends. Even if a driver doesn’t suffer sickness themselves, they could suffer some unfortunate consequences if they cause any of their passengers to become unwell simply because they are accelerating or braking too sharply,” he added.


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Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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