City driving is frustrating to put it simply; stop and go traffic every other block, pedestrians walking in front of cars without regard for safety, even cars weaving in and out of lanes as if they own the road. These annoyances can turn into increased stress for drivers on the road today and a major factor in causing that stress might just be the city they’re driving in.
Part of the issue with added stress while driving is found within the actual design of a city. Picture yourself driving through New York City fighting against traffic and pedestrians at every intersection. It’s an unpleasant thought to say the least, but these urban design aspects have been linked with the amount of stress, or conversely the amount of happiness, that people within cities are dealing with daily.
In a 2007 study, researchers found that drivers with difficult commutes had increased blood pressure, a higher chance of illness, decreased job satisfaction, and overall decreased performance on cognitive tasks. While each of those on their own is cause for alarm, the decreased cognitive performance is what is most concerning as it relates hand in hand with safety on the road. Driving in a city with strip malls instead of vegetation was also shown to keep stress levels high.
On the other hand, some cities are actively looking to make their residents happier and more comfortable where they live. Making cities more walkable has been a major trend in urban planning primarily because it keeps cars off the road and helps to reduce emissions, but now planners are realizing that it also helps keep people healthier and aids in social interaction. On a similar token, cities with easy access to public urban transportation, another alternative to driving, have been shown to keep citizens happier and quite possibly less stressed as a result.
Perhaps those in power should be focusing not only on what eco friendly cars we’re driving, but also where and how we drive them, to make the world a bit greener for everyone.
Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.