Almost half say driving stress affects their whole day



A recent survey says 42 per cent of drivers feel stress behind the wheel. For 13 per cent, driving is more stressful than financial worries.


If you’re finding the drive to work after the New Year’s break hard to take, you’re not alone. Driving officially stresses us all and returning to the daily commute is the most stressful activity many of us will undertake at this time, according to research by British-based intelligent driving experts Trafficmaster.


Motorists surveyed by the U.K.’s leading journey management company say travelling by car is more stressful than financial or work pressures, going on a blind date or even meeting one’s in-laws for the first time. Overall, 42 per cent of drivers feel stress behind the wheel. Driving is most stressful for 25 per cent of respondents, more than financial worries (13 per cent), a first day in a new job (11 per cent), going on a blind date (4 per cent) or meeting the in-laws (also 4 per cent).

It’s unlikely that these percentages would vary much for Canadian drivers in urban areas such as Toronto with its frantic pace and traffic-congested roads.

The study also found half of sufferers can’t even leave their tension in the car, with 48 per cent admitting road-based stress affects their whole day and 41 per cent saying this happens at least once a week.

Trafficmaster also worked with a health psychologist, David Moxon, to measure stress levels, understand their effects and ways to reduce them. Stress is most accurately measured by increased levels of a naturally occurring hormone, Cortisol. The study looked at driving with and without satellite navigation and found the following:

•Driving provokes an unconscious increase in Cortisol levels.

• On individuals who were generally more ‘highly strung’, projected results show significant increases in Cortisol level from driving.

• Cortisol levels double when driving without the aid of satellite navigation.

• Driving without satellite navigation is nearly three times more stressful than, say, shopping.

Moxon said, "Long-term elevated exposure to Cortisol within the body can have a detrimental effect on health. Studies have shown it suppress the immune system and damage blood vessels. There’s no escape from pressures in daily driving, but planning journeys in advance and using an in-vehicle navigation system significantly reduce stress levels."

Being smart about your driving can help you enjoy a happier year all round.