Driving in traffic more stressful than skydiving?

Could driving in traffic be as stressful as skydiving? If you ever find yourself road raging—maybe gnashing your teeth or cursing at any car that doesn’t bother to use its signals before changing into your lane (it’s like they didn’t even take drivers ed!?—you’re not alone and you’re not the super angry, intolerant psycho that you might feel like.

When your car is moving slower than an old tortoise with a broken leg, you’re bound to be frustrated. In an attempt to quantify just how frustrating driving can be, the tension involved in certain traffic situations was ranked against other activities to learn what stresses people out the most.

study recently compared the stress of driving with the pressure of activities like having breakfast and participating in extreme sports. In order to determine which was most stressful, researchers at Audi and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) collaborated to create the Road Frustration Index (RFI).

Researchers outfitted the cars with cameras to record facial expressions, and attached stress-reading skin sensors to the drivers. The RFI ranked all kinds of road conditions that drivers faced in 30 metropolitan U.S. cities versus other daily tasks.

The results showed that driving in traffic is more stressful than many commonplace activities, including giving a presentation and sitting through an economics class.

What’s almost as stressful as jumping out of a plane? Getting into an accident, followed by driving in traffic with road rage.

Life would be better if you never had to sweat bad drivers cramping the road and your style. Fortunately, you can control your driving in traffic to make accidents less likely. The fact is, you can actually prevent stressful and dangerous situations with defensive driving strategies. It will take you a few hours to learn, but it could save you time, some wear and tear on your nerves, and maybe even your life.

What’s more stressful than driving in your own day-to-day? Taking finals? Asking your boss for a raise? Getting ready for a date? Do you have any tips for lessening the stress behind the wheel? Please share them with us and other readers!

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