You’ve probably felt it before. You’re behind the wheel and some inconsiderate so-and-so cuts you off. You’ve run late for work, the boss has piled on more work than you can handle and you won’t relax until AFTER the dinner’s made and the kids are in bed. So you swear, honk your horn and give that nasty driver a one-fingered salute. But what’s that costing you, in terms of your health and wellbeing?
Could road rage lead to an early grave?
According to a joint study on road rage conducted by insurer RACQ and the University of the Sunshine Coast, aggressive drivers had higher stress levels and slipped up more than distracted drivers or oblivious drivers.
Participants drove in a driving simulator for the study. Roadblocks, inconsiderate drivers and construction zones all increased stress levels and elevated blood pressure in aggressive drivers. In a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, their “Road Frustration Index” shows longer drives often cause more stress. According to their 2012 study, a sideswipe is as stressful as skydiving.
High blood pressure over a sustained period is a leading cause of heart disease, which is a major cause of premature death in many Australians.
Does road rage cost you more than your health?
According to the Victorian Police Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, 20% of road rage incidents end up in some kind of financial loss. The average loss is $174 per incident, with a maximum of $28,000. But the mental harm can be prolonged and severe.
52% of Australians said that they’ve experienced some form of road rage or road violence, while other surveys put the number as high as 88%.
Road rage is not just costly, but illegal. Offences such as menacing driving (gestures or overly aggressive driving) or predatory driving (tailgating, sideswiping, following people home etc.) can land you in jail for 12-18 months all the way up to five years. Is getting revenge on a fellow driver (who may be having a worse day than you) worth a five year jail term AND a conviction?
How your actions can reduce road rage
The RACQ/UotSC study showed that considerate drivers imparted a ripple effect on other drivers – their driving actually caused others to slow down and drive courteously.
Driving by the road rules, giving way more often and brushing off other (non-threatening) bad behaviour leads to lower stress levels – and less road rage.
There’s some truth to the saying “Stress less, you’ll live longer” after all!