Next time someone cuts you off or honks at you, you might want to take a deep breath and think hard before reacting. A new study says road rage and aggressive driving could have serious long-term health implications, and potentially cut your life short.
“Being an aggressive driver could actually kill you in the long term,” Paul Turner from Australian motoring organization RACQ told 7 News.
The study put subjects in a driving simulator, where they were faced with aggressive drivers, distracted drivers, oblivious drivers -- or those who were considerate.
They found a sort of ripple effect when it came to road behavior. Kind and considerate drivers had the greatest effect on fellow drivers, encouraging others to behave well, themselves. They also reduced the drivers' stress levels.
The simulator measured heart rate, anxiety and blood pressure under the various conditions.
But it was road rage that had the scariest effects. "The aggressive driver increased participants’ stress and caused them to make simple errors leading to missed turns and near misses with other drivers," Turner said in a statement.
Other aggravating road conditions also increased the subjects' stress levels, like roadblocks and construction.
Researchers say that this sort of stress on the road can have adverse effects up to six years later, by elevating blood pressure long-term. High blood pressure is said to be a contributor to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S..
Other studies have looked at the relationship between stressful driving situations and health. One 2012 study found that the longer a person's commute, the more likely it is that they will have high blood pressure and a higher body mass index. Another study, conducted by MIT, created a "Road Frustration Index," saying aggressive road conditions like getting side-swiped can cause nearly as much stress as sky diving.
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