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Study: Work-Related Stress Increases Car Accident Risk

by John Gomez | Last Updated: March 29, 2017
Car Accident Risk

Working is simply a part of life in the United States and around the world.  Many of us do not relish the idea of getting up in the morning and going to work.  Many of us do not look forward to the rigors of the day.  Even if we enjoy our jobs, as many of us do, there are still sources of stress that nearly everyone experiences.  While work-related stress is common, its effects may not be well known by many people.  A recent study may have identified another potential piece of fallout from work-related stress: an increased car accident risk.  Anecdotally, the idea makes sense in that we tend to focus on things other than our driving environments when we are preoccupied with issues at our jobs.  This is true whether we are driving to work or home after the day is over.

About the Car Accident Risk Study

Researchers from the University of Haifa completed the study, and it appeared in a recent issue of the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology.  Those interested in reviewing the abstract can find it here.  Researchers collected data from 216 different manufacturing plant workers.  These workers provided feedback for several different questions involving their enjoyment of work and their driving tactics.  They provided this feedback at two different points so the consistency of their responses could be measured.

The researchers uncovered the following findings:

  • Struggling to balance work and family life was the top stressor in terms of increasing a person’s car accident risk.
  • The more stress someone felt with regards to this balance, the more likely they were to take risks while behind the wheel.  These risks included:
    • Passing other vehicles on the inside lane
    • Text while driving
    • Talk on the phone while driving
    • Drive aggressively
  • Workers who disliked their supervisors at work also faced a higher car accident risk.

Those who reported experiencing either of these two forms of work-related stress also admitted that they tended to drive in a risky manner at times other than during their commutes to and from work.  In effect, the stress they were experiencing normalized or rationalized the risks they were taking behind the wheel even though they knew that they were inviting danger.  The researchers went on to discuss whether or not employers working with employees on safe commuting could have a positive impact on everyone’s car accident risk.

American Workforce Statistics

Even though the study focused on workers outside of the United States, the findings from the research seem universal.  If people dislike their jobs for whatever reason, they tend to focus on those problems while driving and not on the road.  If this is a universal finding, then one needs to consider some related statistics.

According to Statista.com, 123.61 million adults were employed full-time in the United States in February of 2017.  Pew Research conducted a survey in 2016 that looked deeply into the relative levels of job satisfaction Americans were experiencing at the time.  The survey led to the following results:

  • 49 percent of workers were very satisfied with their jobs.
  • 30 percent of American workers were somewhat satisfied with their jobs.
  • 9 percent of respondents were somewhat dissatisfied with their jobs.
  • 5 percent did not know whether or not they were satisfied with their jobs.
  • 6 percent of workers were dissatisfied with their current job situation.

The numbers from Pew Research serve as one source of data, but the Conference Board completed a survey in 2014 that revealed that 52.3 percent of Americans were unhappy at work.  If we split the difference between the two data points, the result is that more than 41 million people in the United States are at least somewhat unhappy with their job situations.  That means that every day, tens of millions of people in the United States are driving to and from work who are unhappy.

Ideas For Lowering Your Car Accident Risk

Even people who genuinely enjoy their jobs are going to have bad days from time to time.  Anyone who is not in the proper mindset for driving is likely going to increase the car accident risk for him or herself and for anyone nearby.  Mental state has a lot to do with the quality of our driving.  As such, below you’ll find some ideas to consider that may help you put yourself in the right frame of mind to arrive at your destination safely:

  • Don’t Rush – People have a tendency to rush home after a long day of work, thinking that the sooner they get home the better off they will be.  Rushing while behind the wheel leads to poor decisions and poor judgment.  Take your time and just drive at a normal speed.
  • Soothe Your Ears – One technique that helps people relax if they are tense is to listen to soothing music.  If you have any type of music that has this effect on you, put it in before you start to drive and let it play while you are behind the wheel.
  • Let It Go – Sometimes it’s much easier said than done, but if you’ve had a bad day or you’re anticipating one, do what you can to shake free of those thoughts before you get behind the wheel.  Perhaps you could take deep breaths or walk around for a bit to calm down.
  • Try a Different Route – If you take the same path to and from work every day, chances are you’ve become bored with it.  At that point, it’s easy to lose focus on your driving.  If you’re upset, take a different route to or from work as that’ll force you to focus on the task at hand.

How San Diego Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

Above all else, do what needs to be done so that you don’t drive aggressively, as this is dangerous.  We have discussed this very problem recently.  If you are injured in a crash that was caused by a distracted driver, you also need to take steps to make sure that your legal rights are properly protected and enforced.  Contact the San Diego car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

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