The Stress Test: Is Commuting In A Big Indian City Driving You Over The Edge? - Overdrive

The stress test: Is commuting in a big Indian city driving you over the edge?

06 Sep 2016  /  1

When our cover said that stress induced by driving was killing you, we weren’t kidding. Stress-related disorders due to driving are a serious health concern, except in India there isn’t any focused study that monitors motoring-related stress and studies its effects on an individual’s physiology. Globally, there are several studies that address this issue. It’s a deathly concern, and more and more people are succumbing to stress brought on by staying in their cars in traffic. It leads to all sorts of trouble, depression, anxiety, rage, diabetes, fatigue and even heart disease! So don’t take your commute to work and home lightly.

Stress Test Featured Image

I’ve been giving this plenty of thought as I’m stuck in a terrible traffic for close to half an hour now. But for the first time I don’t feel like killing someone. Why? Because for once, I’m in the passenger seat! Allow me to explain how I got here.

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If you’re like me, or like anyone else at OVERDRIVE, you’d probably agree that driving is your ultimate therapy – a way to escape and open up your mind. However, like all of us, you’re probably imagining carving through the beautiful winding roads of the Swiss Alps in the perfect driving machine. But reality provides a harsh slap in the face.

The sad truth for most of us in the big city is that the urban jungle is a chaotic land bereft of courtesy, patience and law. Driving to and from work is often the least productive and most stressful part of folk’s day, especially in India.

That’s putting it lightly. The truth is it drives most people crazy. This is especially true in cases where the commute consumes four hours a day and five days a week. In a lot of these cases, the stress of fighting traffic pushes road users beyond rationality, leading to unfortunate and extreme incidents of road rage.

Thankfully, most of us usually are more tolerant to stress and know how keep it under control… or so we think. The simple truth is that we big city dwellers are all exposed to unhealthy levels of stress every time we get behind the wheel.

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On a particular rainy day, when the entire city of Mumbai slowed down to a grind, the entire team came into work clouded in anger. We decided to do some research on stress to thoroughly understand what exactly went through our heads in traffic. We found quite a few papers on stress that point out contributing factors like the everyday traffic on your commute to work, erratic drivers, unpredictability and loss of control.

However, there weren’t many that took into consideration factors like age, sex or the even the type of car driven. So we set about to do just that – find out how much these factors contribute to stress while driving. By β€˜we’, I mean there were three people from outside the core team who were talked into doing all the hard work while the rest of us stood by and observed.

And that’s how I found myself sniggering at the situation much to the annoyance of my driver, Sohini Dutt. β€œDo it for science!” I said in my most convincing manner.

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