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Smells and Driving

Fast food smells lead to bad driving
Cinnamon calms and helps concentration.

Driving badly? Then ditch the fast food and reach for the mints.

Different odors affect the way motorists drive, with fast food scents likely to increase road rage potential and other smells — like peppermint — deemed to improve concentration, said the RAC Foundation, a British automobile association.

"More than any other sense, the sense of smell circumnavigates the logical part of the brain," said Conrad King, RAC Foundation's consulting psychologist.

"This is why the smell of perfume can turn men into gibbering idiots, the smell of baking bread can destroy the best intentions of a dieter and the smell of baby powder can make a child-averse individual quite broody," King stated.

The RAC Foundation said it has conducted research into the impact of smells on driving after the release of an odor study by Bryan Raudenbush of the Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia in the United States.

King said good odors to have in your vehicle, other than peppermint, included cinnamon, lemon and coffee. A blast of salty sea air can also encourage deep breathing and help relieve stress.

In contrast the smell of fast food wrappers or fresh bread can cause driver irritability and a tendency to speed because they make drivers feel hungry and in a hurry to satiate their appetites.

Other "dangerous" odors are chamomile, jasmine and lavender because they can cause drivers to over relax or fall asleep. The plants are commonly used to treat insomnia.

For those motorists who might opt for a neutral smelling interior, be warned. Studies of astronauts found an odorless environment created irriability and even olfactory hallucinations.


1. Different odors affect the way motorists drive, shows British Automobile Association

2. Research conducted into impact of smells on driving after release of odor

3. Studies of astronauts found odorless environments created irritability and even olfactory hallucinations

 Significant Points

1. Good odors: peppermint; cinnamon; lemon & coffee

2. Blast of salty sea air can also encourage deep breathing and help relieve stress

3. Bad odors: smell of fast food wrappers and bread make driver hungry and cause to speed to get food

4. Dangerous odors: chamomile, jasmine, lavender make drivers over relax or fall asleep

(Sourced from Automotive Digest, originally published in

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