Being stressed out behind the wheel can affect everyone around you

Stressed out behind the wheel? That can lead to distraction, and even road rage. Curtis Kreklau

The Global News and CKNW Health Series will be tackling the issues of sleep and stress. Today’s topic, handling stress on the road.

Do you have a hard time keeping cool during your commute? It turns out, stress behind the wheel can lead to dangerous driving, distraction, and road rage.

A survey by State Farm Canada shows 30 per cent of people find tailgating to be the most annoying offense.

Twenty-two per cent say the honour goes to distracted drivers, and the same amount say that being cut off is their biggest trigger for road rage.

According to their survey, one third of Canadians say they’re the victims of road rage at least once a month.

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Dr. Gaetano Morello, a licensed Naturopath, said all the different stresses people accumulate over the course of the day or week can reach a tipping point when they’re triggered behind the wheel.

“One of the issues we experience in today’s day and age is extreme levels of stress. Finances are one, relationships at home are another. We can even say that the incredible amount of frequencies in our environment today with cell phones and wireless stations in our own homes – all of this is contributing to this high level of stress.”

He said when people are stressed out, it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response.

“When you’re in fight or flight, the chances of the tipping point or that level that pushes you over the top can certainly increase to higher levels. And you can visualize that when you’re stressed and bothered by something are you more likely to go into a temper mode or a temper tantrum or lose it a lot easier with certain situations that you’d normally handle with much more ease.”

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Twelve per cent of people said they deal with other people’s bad driving habits by venting about it to the other passengers in their vehicles — 46 per cent said they just stay calm, which also recommends.

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They say people should relax and remind themselves that not every driver on the road is going to have the same perception as them. They might not even be aware of the pet peeves that make you crazy.

Other tips include having a healthy and nutritous breakfast, and having a regular exercise routine.

Maureen McGrath, a health expert and the host of the Sunday Night Health Show said road rage can take a toll on people’s health.

“It may lead to restlessness, irritation, and even muscle tension. Judgment may become clouded with the charged emotions of frustration. And all of this may alter reaction times and increase the risk of an accident.”

She said it’s important people recognize frustration.

She recommended people choose to leave a few minutes early, and take some deep breaths.

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