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Driving Health Hazards
by Linda Mackenzie C.H.T., Ph.D. (c)

Did you know that there are health hazards in driving? I'm not talking about accidents. I'm talking about the stress placed on your mind and body that occurs with road rage, eye fatigue and nightblindness, and road fatigue. Here is some information on these health hazards:

ROAD RAGE
All over America drivers are being punished by road rage. This compounds the problem by producing road rage in the attacked driver. Road rage retaliation tactics run from yelling and inappropriate gestures to deliberate braking and using a car as a weapon. There have even been reports of physical fights and death by shooting. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, violent incidents between drivers have increased 51% since 1990. It is so much of a problem, that at least nine states have considered raising penalties for aggressive drivers and insurance companies are devising ways to deny aggressive drivers insurance. The results of road rage include making driving uncomfortable, impeding traffic flow, creating traffic jams and accidents.

The cause of road rage can be found within four levels of stress (environmental, nutritional, emotional and physical) that affect how we, look, think and feel. Some of the possible factors involved are:

Environmental Stress:
- too much traffic
- inadequate lanes and highways
- too many accidents
- traffic jams.
- poisonous toxins emitted by cars (e.g., carbon monoxide and lead). People inhale these poisonous fumes on the road which affect the body and contributes to road rage.

Nutritional Stress
- improper/inadequate nutrients which affect proper working of the mind and body.
- poor diet which may cause nutrient deficiency
- too much sugar, artificial colorings, preservatives, alcohol, caffeine, msg which may cause body imbalance and irritability.

Physical Stress
- illness
- backaches
- headaches
- side effects of prescription, over the counter and recreational drugs that may have side effects of drowsiness which reduces alertness

Emotional Stress
- negative emotions (e.g., frustration, anger)
- watching and absorbing bad driving behavior from parents, movies, and commercials
- Increased stress in daily life. With too much stress people feel they are losing control. The car is a powerful obedient tool, associated with a driver's emotional ego, and sometimes status. The car gives the driver a direct way to control their environment so that they feel they are gaining some control over their lives.

Studies of people who experience road rage found there are particular factors that lead to road rage. These factors occur when another driver: uses swearing or name calling, comes to a rolling stop, speeds,
doesn't signal when changing lanes, makes an illegal turn, follows too closely, goes through a red light and
fails to yield.

Positive ways to handle road rage are:
- Use positive thought & action
- Remember people make mistakes. In human activity there is a 4-10% average chance of mistake.
- Practice safe driving
- Acquire a supportive driving philosophy
- Don't challenge aggressive drivers
- Avoid aggressive drivers and report them to your traffic authorities
- Be physically fit and able to drive
- Reduce the stress in your daily life with exercise, meditation, deep breathing, reading or hobbies
- Eat properly and get enough rest
- Take supportive vitamins, minerals, and nutrients

ROAD VISION

When driving, eyestrain, eye fatigue and nightblindness can produce confusion, hesitation and decreased alertness when driving. This can contribute to traffic accidents, road rage in other drivers, and sometimes death. Some possible causes of eye strain, eye fatigue and nightblindness can be contributed to:
- aging
- using eyes intently for hours, without rest, in an enclosed space
- poor diet
- improper nutrients
- fatigue
- incorrect vision correction (e.g., wearing improper lenses).

Some of the symptoms of eyestrain, eye fatigue and poor vision are: inability to focus well, redness, tearing,
itchiness, swelling, burning, blurred vision, sensitivity to glare, headaches, decreased concentration,
difficulty adjusting to light, worsening nearsightedness, combination of nicotine, sugar, and caffeine may temporarily affect vision.

Positive ways to handle eyestrain, eye fatigue and poor night vision are:
-
Take proper eye supporting nutrients (e.g., bilberry, zinc, lutein, lycopene, Vitamin A)
- Take a 10 minute rest. Lie down, close your eyes and place a cold compress on your eyes.
- Take frequent breaks
- Pull over for a moment and focus on something in the distance
- Try to control glare with antireflective coating on your glasses and windshield
- Keep your glasses and windshield clean
- Remove contacts after 24 hours
- Have regular eye exams
- Eat a proper diet (include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green vegetables, sunflower seeds; avoid sugar)
- Get proper rest

ROAD FATIGUE
Fatigue is a symptom and not a disorder. We can go back to the 4 stresses and take a look at how they contribute to road fatigue.

Environmental Stress:
- Poisonous toxins emitted by cars (e.g., carbon monoxide and lead). People inhale these poisonous fumes on the road which affect the body.
- Inside pollutants (e.g. prescription and over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, sugar, wheat, dairy products artificial coloring, preservatives)
- Too much traffic
- Inadequate lanes and highways
- Long, monotonous highway driving

Nutritional Stress:

- Improper/inadequate nutrients which affect proper working of the mind and body
- Inadequate diet which may cause nutrient deficiency

Physical Stress:

- Illness (e.g., colds, flu, hypothyroidism)
- food allergies
- mold allergies
- driving too long without a break

Emotional Stress:

- negative emotions (e.g., depression, boredom, anxiety)
- overworking
- stress

Positive ways to handle road fatigue:
-
Keep alert with music, talking, playing games on the road.
- Take a break, stop driving when you are over tired.
- Get adequate rest.
- Plan long trips with interesting stops along the way.
- Allow enough time for rest stops.
- Eat a proper diet including fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, seeds, and nuts.
- Avoid energy robbing foods like sugar, alcohol, fats, white flour, processed foods.
- Get regular exercise.
- Take supportive vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
- Keep a positive attitude.

 



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