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Driving up stress

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Why recklessly driving down the highway will see you reaching greater stress levels before your destination.

February 17, 2013 6:41 by



What is it about driving in the UAE that turns even the calmest person into a frenzied speed demon? I had a friend who was the epitome of calm. From dealing with her bi-polar boss to dealing with her cantankerous mobile phone, she just exuded Zen. Well, until she got into her car, that is.

On Sheikh Zayed Road she zips into the “slower” lanes, zigzagging until she reaches the fast lane. Keeping a namesake distance between the car in front, she flashes her lights if any car dare dip below the 1o0kmph limit. The first time I was in the passenger seat, I was so taken aback by her reckless driving, I held my breath and said nothing at all. But, after a few ‘joy-rides’ with her down Sheikh Zayed road, I mustered the courage to ask her to slow down. She took my apprehension for cowardice and disregarded my claim that speeding so recklessly is useless.

I had no empirical data to back up my claims, but thanks to a very smart survey conducted by The National, I now do. The paper strapped four journalists with heart-rate monitors and sent them out on the E11 towards Dubai. The results were very telling indeed, the driver who was allowed to drive up to 140kmph and drive recklessly arrived first; he did so only minutes before the slowest. What is interesting to note, however, is that the fast driver’s heart rate monitor detected a jump of more than 16 beats – a fact attributed to the stress of dealing with the ‘the aggressive behaviour’ of other drivers in the fast lane.

Moral of the story: speeding doesn’t get you there much faster, but it does get you much more stressed.



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