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Why Traffic May Be Harming Your Health

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Tips

It is no secret that driving isn’t exactly the safest thing you do every day. In fact, depending on your job, it could very well be the most dangerous. The US Census reports that in 2009 there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents. But what if there was more to the story. Sure, your risk of getting injured while in a car is high, but simply being in your car may also be harming your health, even if you are accident free.


Oh, from the stress?


Yes, the stress while you are driving can get pretty intense. Especially if you are forced to drive during rush hour or you get stuck behind an accident where the cars are moving at a turtle’s pace. The stress of being late, or simply getting frustrated with idiot drivers, can cause your blood pressure to raise and your hair to gray (okay, that one is not scientifically proven). But there’s more.


Have you considered the fumes you are breathing in?


You may not even realize you are breathing in fumes as you are driving. Cars nowadays have to pass strict emissions tests to make sure they are not emitting high level of pollutants (unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide), but even a car that passes emissions is still letting off dangerous exhaust fumes into the air. Since there are more cars on the road than ever before, resulting in more congestion than ever before, there are a lot of fumes out there that you are breathing in every time you are stuck in traffic.


These fumes may be making you unhealthy.


According to the Wall Street Journal, exhaust fumes have been believed to contribute to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory issues for quite some time. However, recently, these fumes are also believed to affect brain cells. The results can be seen in learning struggles, memory issues, and even an increase in occurrences of Alzheimer’s and autism.


Don’t panic.


The good news is that there are things that can be done to reduce the effects mentioned above. If a rise in alternative fuels continues, and traffic flow problems are resolved, the harmful effects can be diminished. The main issue is when cars idle for extended periods of time on the freeway.


What can I do?


To help eliminate your exposure to these harmful fumes, keep your car moving. Try to get your boss to change your schedule so you can avoid rush hour. If that doesn’t work, (hey, you can dream, can’t you?) get together with a co-worker so you can use the carpool lane. If all else fails, make sure to keep the windows closed and keep your air circulation within the car.


For more tips on how to keep yourself safe on the road, check out DefensiveDriving.com.


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