Aggressive driving impacts your health in more ways than just the apparent, obvious impacts that happen while driving. What about how it affects your mental health? What about your blood pressure? How does it even affect your muscles?
Transportation and transportation-related industries employ over 13.3 million people, accounting for 9.1 percent of workers in the United States. What would happen if any of these top jobs in transportation had aggressive drivers at the helm? Drivers such as:
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- Laborers and freight, stock and material movers (we want to entrust our most valuable, irreplaceable items with a reputable moving company who hires professional, responsible drivers, not drivers aggressively making right turns in front of tractor-trailers hauling explosives!)
- Transit and inner-city bus drivers and school bus drivers (we do not need aggressive school bus drivers for obvious reasons!)
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
- Highway maintenance workers
- Construction laborers (this is HIGHLY dangerous if the driver is aggressive, deadly impacts could occur as a result)
What are the health effects of road rage?
Road rage may make us more prone to accidents, but there are other risks as well. People experiencing road rage may face increased health risks from high levels of stress, tension, and anger. These episodes of acute stress may become chronic stress, chronic pain from tense muscles leading to many adverse health outcomes.
A research study done in 2009 by Liberty Mutual Insurance looked at people’s driving habits and how they correlated with their health-related issues. This study found that the physical problems associated with aggressive driving were enough to increase the risk for a heart attack by 1.7 times. The higher probability for heart attacks isn’t just because of age either. These researchers found that it was due to the increased heart rate and blood pressure caused by aggressive driving.
As for mental health, these researchers discovered that people with poor emotional and mental control were significantly more likely to drive aggressively than those who didn’t, and it had a direct effect on their risk of an accident. Those who appeared overly tense or fearful when they drove were more likely to be involved in accidents as well.
What are the 4 ways to avoid an aggressive driver?
- Signal, move to the right
- Decrease your speed
- Apologetically wave and nod
- Avoid eye contact and drive defensively
Eye contact can be perceived as an aggressive reaction on your part, so always keep your eyes firmly on the road ahead.
What is the root of aggressive driving?
Some drivers may be predisposed to behave aggressively when driving at night. Others may succumb to aggressive tendencies more quickly in hot weather or tightly packed traffic. Of course, some situations – such as stress, tiredness, or other drivers’ bad behavior – could lead any motorist to drive aggressively.
The root of aggressive driving is typically frustration or anxiety about not being in control of one’s environment, which is often the result of job-related stressors. However, the road can also become a surrogate for one’s anger about their daily life.
Drivers with aggressive personalities are more prone to experience road rage, whereas drivers who are already anxious may experience heightened anxiety levels when they get behind the wheel. This can lead to dangerous behavior such as speeding, using the horn excessively, and cutting off other drivers.
Although some people use road rage to gain power or status over others on the road, most individuals who experience it are just trying to relieve their frustrations about being in a stressful environment that is beyond their control.
Is road rage a mental illness?
Road Rage is a psychological disorder where individuals experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, or hostility because of their driving environment.
Road Rage is a specific subset of aggressive driving, including speeding, running red lights, and using the horn excessively. Aggressive driving can lead to road rage, although not all drivers experiencing road rage will exhibit aggressive driving. Similarly, not all drivers who speed at 120 miles per hour in the fast lane and honk incessantly at other drivers are experiencing road rage.
Although many drivers sometimes experience some degree of anger when they get behind the wheel, this feeling snowball can lead to a full-blown psychological disorder for some individuals. There are an estimated 1 million road rage incidents in the United States alone every year.
Motivations for road rage can be varied but often are an extension of why drivers are stressed out before getting on the road. Common reasons include being late for work, being hungry or thirsty, being tired, or just having an overall negative disposition towards people who drive slow or poorly. Other more specific factors contributing to road rage include the following:
- Drivers are more likely to experience road rage when they lack control over their environment. This makes sense- the less control someone has, the more anxiety arises. A prime example is speeding up to change lanes at high speeds, only to be blocked by another driver.
- Some drivers are more prone to road rage than others, usually because of their personality type. This is especially true among young adult males, who tend to use aggression to gain status and respect.
- Driving styles can fuel road rage in certain types of individuals. For example, people with aggressive personalities tend to become more aggressive when their driving is blocked or inhibited. In contrast, people who are already anxious can become even more agitated when their movements are impeded.
- Some drivers may use techniques to relieve stress and decrease road rage, such as using calming breathing exercises, using music to soothe themselves during stressful traffic situations, avoiding confrontations with other drivers, or gripping their steering wheel in a way to minimize shaking or twitching.
Many states have passed laws allowing road rage incidents to be considered criminal offenses- allowing courts to issue restraining orders, fines, and even jail time against people convicted of road rage. These laws are only effective when the drivers involved feel as though they were threatened or endangered.
How Aggressive Driving Impacts Your Health
Aggressive driving takes its toll on your health, and it’s detrimental to both your mental and physical well-being. Whether you’re an aggressive driver or not, by simply being aware of this fact, maybe you’ll be more conscious about your driving habits and avoid acting out on impulse behind the wheel.
Drive safe, relax, take it easy and buckle up!