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Men more stressed than women when stuck in traffic

24th May 2011 Print

They may be the butt of chauvinist jokes but it seems women drivers could end up having the last laugh, according to research by satnav firm TomTom.
That's because men's stress levels soar a staggering seven times higher than a woman's when stuck in heavy traffic.
Psychologists tested volunteers for the rise in stress chemicals in their saliva when caught up in a traffic jam.
The levels for women in the study increased by 8.7 per cent while stuck behind the wheel - but for men it shot up by a worrying 60 per cent in the same gridlock scenario.
That could be unhealthy as it puts pressure on the heart and can cause dizziness and breathing problems yet remarkably, many had no idea they were suffering from stress.
Two thirds of the women (67 per cent) and half (50 per cent) of the men reported not feeling any stress after 20 minutes in heavy traffic, even though the readings proved they were.
Almost half of all adults (48 per cent) commute to work by car on a daily basis and those who are exposed to constant traffic jams could eventually fall to stress-related health problems.
It may also make their driving erratic and potentially dangerous said health psychologist David Moxon.
Men could get more stressed because their normal reaction to a difficult situation is known as 'fight or flight' - which means either confront it or walk away from it.
However, stuck behind the wheel in motionless traffic does not leave them either option so they sit and fume.
Women, on the other hand, cope better using methods as simple as singing to the radio to relieve the pressure.
David Moxon said: "These findings make good evolutionary sense. Men, in particular, show a strong acute physiological fight or flight response".
Corinne Vigreux, Managing Director, Consumer at TomTom added:  "Many drivers see traffic congestion as a necessary evil.
"But this research proves that we have an obligation to challenge this line of thinking.  As announced in our Traffic Manifesto last September, we pledge to use our unique technology and our driving community to reduce traffic congestion by 5% for everyone".
A global survey of 10,000 drivers for TomTom showed 72 per cent drove on a daily basis and 86 per cent felt traffic had a negative impact on their lives.
Whilst 77% of British drivers listen to music and 23% sing to themselves to make better use of time when stuck in traffic, ways of coping also include making phone calls (16%), eating/drinking (20%) and even putting on make-up or shaving (3%) - all of which can be dangerous.
Road congestion on the way to an important appointment is more stressful than going to the dentist and the favourite song to drive to is "I Want To Break Free" by Queen.
TomTom is encouraging drivers to break free from traffic through its trade-in promotion, giving them up to £50 off a TomTom device with HD Traffic.  Drivers can trade in any satnav - of any brand and any age - and benefit from TomTom HD Traffic, so they'll always know how long a journey will take. And if there is a quicker route, they'll get it immediately.

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