Traffic = Stress. How it affects our health.

Traffic. It’s affected each of us in some way or another. Has it affected us enough to harm our health?

For me, not only did I sit in it beginning at 4:30 am each weekday morning on the way to work, but I also reported it on television and radio in South Florida for more than 14 years. It stressed me out just looking at it!
And here’s a fun fact: 22 years ago I was a Community Service Officer in Hollywood, Florida. What on earth is that? The job basically consisted of showing up at accident scenes and issuing tickets and reports, directing traffic when a light was out, giving out tickets for illegal parking and filing stolen tag, decal and vandalism reports. Needless to say, traffic runs through my veins.

It’s been 88 weeks, 1 day, 7 hours and 40 minutes (but who’s counting) since I last reported traffic – and while I no longer report the traffic or issue tickets, I’m still affected by it. How? Well, like you, I still sit in it.. sometimes. Luckily, since moving to North Florida a lot of the “sitting” doesn’t happen anymore.

Here’s what I can tell you about traffic… and I think you’ll agree. It sucks. But seriously, how does traffic impact our health?

According to analysis by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the average American commuter spends 42 hours per year stuck in rush-hour traffic. (As a traffic reporter, this meant job security.)

The total cost of traffic considering lost time and wasted fuel exceeds $100 billion per year. Long term exposure to vehicle exhaust is associated with respiratory problems, especially affecting children.

Anxieties rise because there’s a sense of being “stuck” and out of control of the situation. Some get so stressed out that road-rage is born. Specifically talking about Los Angeles for a moment, the Journal of Public Economics documented a link between congestion and domestic violence. Holy cow.

One more thing that might make your blood boil…
Have you ever tried to pass in the left lane, only to find that there’s already someone there going 20 miles per hour under the speed limit, just cruising? Or texting?!?! That’s not only rude, ignorant and illegal – it’s unsafe!
There are some drivers who need to use that left lane to get somewhere and pass safely. It’s not a “cruise at your own pace” lane.
**Drivers failing to move from the far left lane will receive a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation.

While we can’t completely eliminate traffic and the stress of driving in it, we can eliminate our role in the world of stress.
A big part of eliminating a lot of the stresses of driving: leave with plenty of time to spare. Save time! (At the end of my reports, I usually said this.) Then, when you get to where you’re going, you can grab coffee! =)

Here are a few more tips:
1.) Take a deep breath. And then exhale.
2.) Practice good intentions.
3.) Listen to your favorite music.
4.) Make sure your a/c recirculate button is on.
5.) Make yourself comfortable.
6.) Bring a snack.
7.) Start getting business done. Call someone. Make sure it’s handsfree!

The object of your commute is to arrive safely. Safely and ticket free!

Always buckle up and maintain a safe distance.

Happy driving!

My career in voice work began in 2001. I have been “the voice” for hundreds of companies nationwide. I now record and produce projects for companies across the nation.

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