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Road warriors, relax!

Angry driving is bad for your health, experts say


March 10, 1996
Web posted at: 5:25 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Jeff Levine

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Feeling stress behind the wheel may be a familiar sensation for hundreds of drivers, but some medical experts say it could be more than just a temporary irritant. It could be a health hazard.

A recent British study shows 55 percent of commuters are stressed on their daily drive to and from work.

"It feels like I want to get out of the car, leave it there, and walk the rest of the way," says one harried driver.

But that's not an option for Chuck DiRocco, who faces a 15-mile ride from a northwestern suburb into downtown Washington, D.C.

Like other freeway mariners, DiRocco navigates through a seemingly endless rush hour, which at times is punctuated with nasty driving.

"It gets very frustrating ... let alone having to drive an hour plus to get there (to work)," DiRocco says. "I mean I get a kick out of it sometimes. It's stressful, but you have to look at it and just laugh."

But the repercussions of being a road warrior are nothing to be laughed at. Over the long haul, experts believe, road stress can drive down your moods and your job performance.

California psychiatrist Dr. Martin Brenner reformed his own aggressive driving habits when he realized they were self-destructive.

"That increases your risk of accidents on the road. It also can make a wasteland of your personal life," he says.

Dr. Martin Brenner

"If somebody cuts you off, don't do battle with them. If you give in, you win."

-- psychiatrist Dr. Martin Brenner

Studies conducted in southern California indicate the longer the commute, the higher the driver's blood pressure. There also is an increase in job frustration and illness.

According to the study, women are the most stressed commuters, possibly because they are trying to balance work with domestic responsibility.

"Some days it's, argh! And some days, it's like, oh God, OK? But never good!" says one woman driver.

You may have commuter stress if you: You can relieve stress if you:
Tend to go through red or yellow lights Ride with someone else or take public transit
Curse or make obscene gestures Think of your car as a refuge from freeway frenzy
Constantly worry about being late Listen to relaxing music while driving


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