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The next time you say “this commute is killing me”, you may be right. Work traffic, highway gridlock, and long commutes are causing driver’s stress and increased health hazards, putting Americans in danger each time they leave the workplace. A stressful day at work, pent up anger and stress with fellow motorists, and the distractions of smart phones, all add up to a dangerous situation that is easily preventable.

Road rage, the number one symptom of work traffic, can be an emotional spiral that is tough to shake even upon reaching your destination. Impatience can turn into resentment, anger, and eventually be projected on those around you. Children in the backseat are especially susceptible to driver anger, learning from their parent’s reactions in stressful situations. Traffic can lead to poor attitude being carried into the work place or the home environment, and discussions of the commute can lead to a reinforcement of those negative emotions the next time you get behind the wheel. Monitoring your emotions and confronting your internal dialog while in the situation can help relieve the stress of the commute, and help you breathe easier behind the wheel.

Drivers who do not confront their Road Rage can end up having more of an impact than just around the water cooler at work. Road Rage and commuter traffic can lead to aggressive driving, and the dependence on a means of distraction, both of which may lead to injury, or death, behind the wheel. Aggressive driving, a by-product of Road Rage, can lead to heightened blood pressure and poor decision making, causing drivers to perform maneuvers they would not have normally made had they taken the time to address their anger. Many other drivers afflicted with road rage may attempt to distract themselves from the stress of the commute by using their smart phone while behind the wheel, a habit shown to drastically increase the potential for injury due to driver inattentiveness.

Today, as you begin your evening commute home, remember there are precautions you can take to help alleviate the stress on your commute. Taking back roads, arriving earlier to work, and utilizing a hands free device or refraining from use of your phone completely can mean the difference between a relaxing evening at home, or a painful experience behind the wheel.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, Eastern Shore Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service.

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