Do Electric Cars Cause More Motion Sickness? [7 Ways to control]

Electric cars are hard not to like – they promise fewer car accidents, better fuel consumption, and great driving.

The only thing that is hard to get in tune with is feeling car sick and possibly throwing up in your car seat. A good coping mechanism for sensitive individuals is keeping yourself distracted and looking out the window, but the real question is whether electric cars cause more motion sickness.

Do Electric Cars Cause More Motion Sickness?

The truth is that when compared to standard cars, electric cars definitely cause more motion sickness. This is because of the quick acceleration and fast brakes.

Autonomous driving mode allows electric vehicles (EVs) to make sharp turns, sudden brakes, and in-the-moment accelerations, all causing riders to feel nauseous.

In this article, you will learn why some people feel motion sickness when riding in electric cars and what they can do to ensure smooth riding.

Motion Sickness – What Causes it?

Not enough studies prove why motion sickness occurs when individuals ride in electric cars. However, there is a common theory about how sensory signals get mixed up, causing feelings of nausea in the human body.

When you are reading a magazine in a car, your eyes will signal to your brain that the car is stationary. However, the vestibular system will recognize the vibration and turns that the car makes, telling the brain that you are moving. Due to this confusion in signals, you start feeling symptoms of motion sickness.

Even though this theory makes sense, why is it that the brain causes feelings of nausea to take over when it receives mixed signals? Is it a coping mechanism to protect your body?

So, history proves that our ancestors would also experience mixed sensory signals. However, cars were not around back then. Instead, they would experience this feeling when they consumed a type of poisonous food, especially neurotoxins.

Due to this, the body learned to develop a defense mechanism that was passed down from generation to generation. This mechanism encouraged vomiting if the body experienced mixed sensory signals to keep the body safe.

Compared to decades of human evolution, cars and vehicles have only been around for a percentage of the time. Due to this, the human body must learn and understand the concept of driving and view it as a modern-day phenomenon that is here to stay.

Euro Car Parts conducted a study in which they found that 2/3 of the participants experienced symptoms of nausea, and about 1/3rd of them actually ended up throwing up. Here are some other symptoms that were experienced along with motion sickness:

  • Frequent yawning
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Breathlessness
  • The skin getting pale
  • Dizziness
Do Electric Cars Cause More Motion Sickness
Do Electric Cars Cause More Motion Sickness

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Are Electric Cars to Blame for Motion Sickness?

Electric vehicles are known for quick acceleration, and regenerative braking allows them to have powerful brakes. Those with sensitive bodies may find increased feelings of motion sickness due to these features.

The sudden increase and decrease in speed can cause people to feel sicker when they are traveling in electric vehicles as opposed to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

Moreover, since there is no engine noise in electric cars, the feelings of motion sickness are heightened. This is because when you are in a car and can hear the faint buzzing of the engine, your body might be conscious that even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are definitely moving.

Moreover, in electric cars, you will find that passenger seats that are rear-facing. Due to this feature, individuals who sit at the back of the passenger seat may feel more nauseous.

Why Does One Feel Sicker in EVs as Opposed to ICE Cars?

It doesn’t matter what kind of car you are traveling in; some people can feel motion sickness in electric cars and internal combustion engine cars. However, it has been found that more people are likely to feel nauseous in EVs as opposed to ICE cars.

Since the engine accelerates quicker in electric vehicles, the brakes can be applied more suddenly, unexpected turns can be made, and seats are often backward-facing. Due to all these features, you might feel like vomiting, especially if your body is not used to traveling in an electric car.

Reasons for Motion SicknessWhy Motion Sickness OccursElectric VehiclesInternal Combustion Engine Cars
Unexpected turnsSharp and sudden turns are the biggest reasons why people feel motion sickness.Due to the autonomous driving feature, electric cars can make sudden turns when passengers least expect it.Individuals who are sitting in the backseat and do not have a view out the window can experience motion sickness because they are not expecting the turns. However, they might feel better if they sit in the front.
Velocity changesThe brakes or acceleration can cause velocity changes which can lead to nausea.Unlike traditional cars, electric cars accelerate extremely quickly because they do not have a transmission. Cars such as Tesla’s have a feature called regenerative braking, which allows a speeding car to slow down within a few seconds.ICE cars slowly accelerate, brake, and slow down. Individuals can expect the car’s speed, so it does not take them by surprise.
SeatingThe positioning of the seats can increase mixed sensory signals in the body.Usually, electric cars have seats that face backward. This is why passengers sitting in the car will experience motion sickness.ICE cars have traditional seating so that the seats are always facing forwards. However, you might find that some cars have seats facing sideways which may lead to motion sickness for some passengers.

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How to Stop Experiencing Motion Sickness in Electric Cars?

If you find yourself feeling nauseous when traveling in an electric car, the quickest solution is to stop the car and jump out so that you can breathe some fresh air and realign yourself.

When you step out of the car, drink some water and put your head in between your knees to breathe easier. However, sometimes it may not be possible to keep stopping the car, especially if you feel nauseous each time the car makes a turn or accelerates.

Here are some other tips to avoid feeling nauseous when riding in an electric car:

1. Slow Down the Brakes and Acceleration

Notice when you feel motion sickness. If it is usually when the electric vehicle is braking all of a sudden or accelerating fast, then you have the option of switching that feature off.

Usually, electric cars allow you to change the settings of the brakes and acceleration. For example, in a Tesla, you can activate the Chill Mode, which will allow you to slow down the brakes and acceleration so that your body does not have to experience sudden shifts in speed.

2. Focus Your Attention Outside the Window

We know this might be hard, but instead of thinking about how sick you feel, we would recommend that you look out of the window. This will allow your brain to register that you are in a moving car, leading to you predicting when the car is about to take a turn or stop.

Since your body will be more aware and mindful, you will not suffer from any mixed sensory signals, and eventually, any symptoms of nausea and motion sickness will die down. If you want a better view of the road, you can sit in the front seat with no one blocking your view.

3. Close Your Eyes

What better way to ensure that you do not feel sick than by closing your eyes and taking a quick power nap? When traveling in an electric vehicle, you can put an end to mixed sensory signals by popping your headphones on and giving your body a break.

Since you will be asleep, your body will be unaware of what is going on, and hence, you will not need to feel motion sickness.

4. Keep the Windows Rolled Down

Allowing fresh air to enter the car is a great way to ensure that you do not get nauseous. Sometimes, you may feel worse in an enclosed space, especially since cars can start to feel claustrophobic for those whose bodies are extremely sensitive.

Hence, don’t be afraid to roll the windows down and breathe in the fresh air. If possible, never sit in the middle so that you can always rest near the window seat.

5. Eat the Right Foods

There is no denying that eating some foods can help you feel better during your car trip and lower feelings of motion sickness.

Some options include peppermint tea, nuts, ginger, and crackers. Avoid consuming dairy or any heavy meals right before you sit in the car as these can cause you to feel more nauseous, eventually increasing your chances of throwing up.

6. Medication

If you have already tried everything and cannot find a solution that will lower your feelings of motion sickness, there are always some medicines that you can try.

We would recommend that you consult your doctor but keep in mind that most medicines have some side effects, especially drowsiness.

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7. Vibration Device

Some experimenters designed a technology that would predict whether a passenger would feel nauseous when riding in an electric car. This technology would study their data, posture, and other signs from a past vehicle and apply it to how they would feel in an EV.

It would then create a recovery program that was different for each individual. This would allow one to change the control settings of the vehicle so that passengers did not have to feel sick in the car.

Following this, the effects of a tiny vibration device were studied. This device would be put behind an individual’s ear and would increase the time it would take them to feel nauseous in an electric car. This device would be perfect for shorter trips if one could not look out the window or take any medications.

While it would not solve the problem for longer car trips, at least one could feel comfortable if they needed to take a trip to the grocery store and back home in their electric car.

electric cars cause more motion sickness
electric cars cause more motion sickness

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Training the Brain to Avoid Feelings of Motion Sickness

The University of Warwick (UK) conducted a study in which it was found that training the brain to feel less vulnerable to motion sickness is possible. In this training session, participants took part in some visuospatial exercises before getting into the electric vehicles.

These exercises were based on identifying pictures within other pictures, folding papers, and other little exercises in which participants had to match 3D pictures to their appropriate rotations.

After the two-week training, participants reported a 51 percent reduction in feelings of nausea as opposed to when they would travel in the simulator before. When they sat in their electric vehicles, they reported a 58 percent decrease in motion sickness.

Final Thoughts

Generally, motion sickness occurs when the vestibular system in the body tells the brain that you are moving, but the eyes do not get this signal and instead believe that you are stationary. Due to this contradiction, the sensory signals are confused, causing the body to feel nauseous.

When you are driving in autonomous mode or your body is facing backward, riding in an electric car can cause motion sickness. However, sudden brakes and quick acceleration are usually to blame when it comes to feeling nauseous during your travels in EVs.

That being said, reducing these uncomfortable feelings is possible as long as you follow the tricks and tips we have mentioned in this article. Remember to always keep a plastic or paper bag with you if you are getting into an electric car for the first time, as you never know how you will feel and don’t want to throw up in your car. Good luck!

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