There’s no doubt that being stuck in traffic or having to suffer through a daily commute can be frustrating for just about everyone, but new research shows that work stress can carry over when you’re behind the wheel, making you an aggressive driver or more likely to be involved in a car accident.
Having a job that you like has many benefits. It can make it much easier to keep calm, be productive, collaborate and work with others, and bring home a positive attitude at the end of each day for when you spend time with your family.
Stressing out about work, on the other hand, can have significant consequences for the rest of your life. Aside from your typical health risks — like weight gain, increase in heart disease, or difficulty sleeping — people who have a lot of work stress also are more likely to be involved in a dangerous event while driving to or from work, according to a study published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology.
A Costly Commute
Americans spend a tremendous amount of time in their cars, and a lot of that is getting to and from work. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Americans commute approximately 26 minutes each way per day. That’s nearly one hour spent in the car. For those who have a longer commute, frustration with traffic and commuting in general can be greater.
However, traffic isn’t the only thing contributing to a high stress level. Even if you work from home, you still have a high likelihood of getting in an accident if you’re stressed out or preoccupied with work thoughts while driving. Likewise, frustrations and anxiety about the work day ahead also can increase your chances of being involved in a crash.
In 2015, the state of Ohio recorded 302,307 total traffic crashes and 1,110 deaths. Of those, 77,202 crashes were caused by following too closely, 37,184 by failure to yield, 26,650 by improper lane change or passing,10,966 by unsafe speed, and 2,301 by operating the vehicle in a negligent manner.
If you are preoccupied with work stress, there’s a greater chance you’ll engage in negative behavior, such as aggressive driving or distracted driving. There’s also a greater chance you have some family stress, as well.
Stress Creates Risky Drivers
Researchers from the commuter behavior study identified that the amount of risks taken behind the wheel correlated with a person having a hard time balancing their family and work life — in fact, juggling the two was the number-one stressor for study participants. The more someone felt conflicted about their work-life balance, the more likely they were to overtake other cars on an inside lane, conduct dangerous maneuvers, tailgate, or call or text someone while driving. (It’s illegal to text and drive in Ohio, so be extra careful.)
The second-most impactful factor that determined whether or not someone’s work stress was carrying over into their personal life was having a boss they disliked. A driver who reported that they disliked their direct supervisor or manager was much more likely to be a more dangerous driver than their counterparts.
Being stressed about work meant not only that these individuals in the study behaved more dangerously, but it also increased their acceptability of this behavior. Dangerous, stressed drivers just thought the way they were acting was normal and thus were more likely to act this way while driving a car at any time.
See also: How Do Crash Test Dummies Keep Us Safe?
How to Decrease Work Stress
Understanding the ways work stress can affect you and taking steps to minimize stress is important for your safety and the safety of others on Ohio roads.
One of the best things you can do is engage in an activity that decreases your stress, and make time to do it on a regular basis. This could include yoga or another type of exercise, or even meditation. Incorporating some activity into your day before you head out on your morning commute or hitting the gym right after work could help you feel happier, more productive, and better able to achieve that work-life balance we so desire.
Here are some other tips on ways to decrease work-related stress:
—While it may not always work out that you live close to where you work, if you have the ability to move or to choose a job closer to home, do it. Identifying a home that is a close enough distance from work can decrease aggravations over traffic and give you the opportunity to spend less time in the office and more time at home with your family.
—Make the commuting experience enjoyable by listening to books on tape or to podcasts. This can have a calming effect and make you feel like you are getting the most out of this otherwise wasted time.
—Every day when you arrive to work, try to think about three things that you like about your job. It could be something as simple as the comfort of your desk chair, or the morning coffee chats you have with a colleague.
—Try to disconnect from your work. View your workplace as the only place you do your work — turn off your email at the end of each work day, and do not engage in any other activities until you’ve walked into your office the next morning. Easier said than done, but it’s a good habit that can establish clear work-life boundaries and reduce stress.
—Recognize that there are things you can control and things you cannot control in the workplace. This may be one of the most critical factors that can help you adjust workplace stress and minimize your chances of engaging in bad behavior behind the wheel.
See also: How to Create a More Ergonomic Workspace
Get Help if You’ve been Injured
Workplace stress can lead to dangerous consequences, like distracted or aggressive driving. If you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Plevin & Gallucci as soon as possible. You may be eligible to recover compensation.
Navigating the legal system on your own can easily be overwhelming, but choosing the right lawyer can help you identify if you have grounds for a claim and the necessary steps to take in order to protect yourself. Most people who have suffered significant injuries in a car crash will be dealing with costly medical bills, daily pain, and the frustration of not being able to return to work.
Get back to feeling less stressed and contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you win your personal injury case, whether you were in a car, motorcycle, or trucking accident with a distracted or dangerous driver.