Sunday, 21 October 2012

Buses "Beating Stress"

Although I'm a car owner, I'm - of course - a huge advocate of public transport.
Myriad reasons for this, but I often refer to the added bonus of getting from A to B on a bus, train or tram. You'll often find me updating my Facebook or Twitter, replying to email, reading (the transport trade press usually!) or simply gazing out of the window at things I can appreciate rather than concentrating on the road ahead. There's also a lot to be said for the down-time of simply day-dreaming - possible on public transport, more difficult driving a car!
So this little piece that appeared on Bus Users UK's Facebook page really backs up my theory about bus passengers being the more relaxed and healthier of the travelling species!

Bus travel 'a third less stressful than driving the car'

New research shows that taking the bus (instead of the car) can reduce mental stress by a third.

The study by Dr David Lewis from The University of Sussex, who coined the term “road rage”, found that motorists face a hidden mental health impact from the stresses of driving, while bus travel can produce long-term health benefits.

r the experiment, the heart rate and EDR (Electro-Dermal Response) of 30 commuters was measured when taking similar journeys by car and bus. The findings reveal a vast difference in EDR, a form of biophysical measurement that Dr Lewis describes as an excellent indicator of mental stress.

When examining the EDR results, the experiment found that taking the car produced significantly greater amounts of stress than taking the bus, which was 33% less stressful.

“EDR can be a hidden stress – it’s not as visible as ‘white knuckle driving’ or audible as road rage. This type of stress can have long-term physiological and emotional implications. Boarding a bus can produce significant long-term health benefits,” said Dr Lewis.

Dr David Lewis says there are three key factors that reduce the attraction and increase the stresses of driving a car.

1. Driving in heavy traffic – especially against a deadline – requires a high level of vigilance, even for experienced motorists. This requires the brain to work especially hard processing a myriad of incoming information and making, often split-second, decisions.

2. Congestion and delays can raise blood pressure and physical tension which may manifest itself as ‘road rage’, a term coined by Dr Lewis in 1985 to describe the explosive outbursts of anger shown by some motorists. Increases in blood pressure can have serious long-term health consequences as well as causing drivers sometimes to take reckless and foolish decisions behind the wheel.

3. A sense of frustration of ‘wasting one’s life’ behind the wheel of the car, unable to do anything more productive than casual conversations or listening to the radio. On a bus it is possible to fill the time more profitably by doing some work or reading.

He also notes that trained, professional bus drivers are skilled in negotiating the challenges of the road, and the relief of trusting someone else to be in charge of the journey, is a key part of what makes taking the bus less stressful.

“This study shows that driving in congested traffic, now outweighs any previous benefits that driving in a private car once gave,” said Dr Lewis.

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