On the day that TomTom launches its Break Free campaign, research commissioned by TomTom suggests that drivers – men in particular – suffer a significant and unhealthy increase in physiological stress when driving in traffic. News that will be of concern for many of the client facing Sales professionals on the road every day.
Independent tests1 – which measured physiological stress markers in participants’ saliva – revealed that 67% of women and 50% of men reported not feeling stressed 20 minutes after driving in traffic, when physiologically they were. The research goes on to suggest that the effects of long-term exposure to stress chemicals include suppressed immune function, raised blood pressure and elevated blood sugar levels.
Health psychologist David Moxon who led the research said, “These findings make good evolutionary sense. Men, in particular, show a strong acute physiological ‘fight or flight’ response. The fact that they are not always aware of this could indicate that driving regularly in dense traffic could have a profound effect on their health.”
Giles Margerison, Director, UK and Ireland, TomTom Business Solutions, added: “Congestion costs the UK economy £8bn a year according to the CBI2 and this research strengthens the case for making every effort to reduce what is a growing problem.
“Fleet Management technology can play a big part in improving routing for drivers. Our systems, for example, can reduce their average journey times by up to 15 per cent and road traffic congestion for everyone by five per cent.”
The research reveals there is a range of noticeable symptoms, although drivers may be oblivious to the effects. Physical symptoms include dizziness, breathlessness, muscular aches and even chest pains, while behavioural symptoms include agitation and erratic driving.
To deal with traffic-induced stress, drivers have developed a number of coping strategies. The survey reveals that 82% of drivers listen to music, whilst 21% talk to other passengers in order to pass the time and ease the tension.
Corinne Vigreux, Managing Director, Consumer at TomTom believes the research brings a critical issue to light. “Many drivers see traffic congestion as a necessary evil. But this research proves that we have an obligation to challenge this line of thinking.”