If you live in a big metropolitan area, you are probably aware of how frustrating it is to deal with daily traffic jams. From London to Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo or Sydney, there seems to be no escape: the biggest cities in the world are crowded by definition and the many thousands of drivers who crowd the streets every day contribute to a cluster of cars that might seem never-ending.
If you are from Southern California, you might be familiar with I-10 and its notorious traffic jams due to accidents and other issues! Being stuck in traffic for whatever reason might not only be annoying; it might actually be a health hazard. In some particularly exceptional circumstances, people can spend many hours in their cars, often surrounded by other vehicles that emit pollution and other waste.
In the meantime, you may use Caltrans, which works fairly well to keep drivers alert across California; while TrafficZebra.com is more suitable for national updates, as it offers a comprehensive suite of features.
In any case, according to the NCBI governmental agency, traffic has a negative impact on public health and it poses a bigger risk, yet the situation has never been studied fully.
“Traffic congestion is a significant issue in urban areas in the United States and around the world. Previous analyses have estimated the economic costs of congestion, related to fuel and time wasted, but few have quantified the public health impacts or determined how these impacts compare in magnitude to the economic costs.”
Do you remember the opening scene from “Falling Down”? The character played by Michael Douglas is stuck in his car in a relentless jam. It’s hot, it’s noisy and there is no way out. While most people might not snap and go on a rampage throughout LA, many drivers experience an increase in blood pressure, which can cause all sorts of problems, such as strokes, heart attacks or artery inflammation. Such physical symptoms are also linked to altered mental states, including depression, stress, and fatigue. In turn, such altered states can lead to more problems, such as loss of concentration that might cause accidents…and further the traffic jam…it’s all a terrible loop, and in order to get away from it, you need to be careful and vigilant at all times.
Driving in traffic is often challenging: the slow pace makes people feel distracted, and more prone to accidents since they might not notice obstacles or speeding vehicle. It’s very important for drivers to remain alert even during the peak of a traffic jam, but it might not always be so easy when extreme boredom and exhaustion kick in, sucking up all of your energy!
These are only some of the unfortunate consequences of exposure to vehicle pollution in high-traffic areas. You might suffer from such health issues even if you are not stuck in traffic, but live in high-traffic areas. People living near highways or busy roads are often found more susceptible to diseases linked to pollution and waste.
In addition to that, extensive car traffic is often associated with higher levels of pollution, which may cause chronic lung diseases and other adverse effects on an individual’s health conditions.
Traffic jams don’t only have a negative impact on people’s health, but also on their wallets. Being stuck in a vehicle for a prolonged period also means more energy usage. You would keep your AC on, for example, or use up fuel and other resources that you would normally be able to save.
In 2012, CNN also reported that long commutes have adverse effects on the health of travelers, stating that “after several years, the daily drive to and from work in high-traffic areas can really get under some people’s skin”
Hopefully, governments will take action to improve our infrastructure and come up with better solutions to traffic problems throughout large urban areas. Until then, however, it’s up to every single one of us to stay alert and informed, to find a way out of the mess!
Thankfully, there are many ways you can prevent being stuck in traffic. The best approach is to stay informed and tune into a source of up-to-date traffic information.