Study: Male Drivers Stress More About Traffic

Even looking at this picture gets me stressed. Image: Shinoda28107

Let me kick this off by saying, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” A British study tested volunteer drivers stuck in rush hour traffic, and found that stress levels in female drivers increased by 8.7 percent, while stress levels in male drivers increased by 60 percent under the same circumstances. The test used scientific methodology (measuring hormone levels in saliva), so it’s not like researchers counted single-digit salutes or curses per mile. Of particular interest is that most volunteers didn’t report feeling stressed, even though their bodies were clearly indicating otherwise. After 20 minutes in traffic, 66 percent of the female drivers and 50 percent of the male drivers claimed not to be stressed, yet exhibited a measurable increase in stress hormone levels.

The short term results of such stress can be aggressive or erratic driving, raised blood pressure and increased agitation. Longer term, stress is linked to health conditions such as heart disease, which makes rush-hour commuting dangerous in more ways than one. A global study by navigation company Tom Tom showed that 76 percent of those surveyed drove on a daily basis, and 86 percent felt that traffic had a negative impact on their lives.

Why the difference in response between men and women? Most likely, it’s due to how our brains are wired. Women are better able to accept things around them, while men are more inclined to want to change things around them; the inability to do so leads to increased agitation (and increased stress levels).

As someone who once drove a daily commute of 110 miles in the New York city area, I completely buy into the results of this study. Not a day went buy that I didn’t find myself stressed-out behind the wheel. Sometimes, my elevated blood pressure was caused by stopped traffic, while other times it was caused by inattentive drivers (usually blocking the left lane, cell phone glued to their ear). I invented thousands of derivatives of scatological and fornication-related curses, but found such therapy to be ineffective. What’s your take? Does traffic stress you out, and if so, how do you cope with it?

Source: Autoguide