What Drives Your Road Rage? – Chasing Life – Podcast on CNN Audio

The longest journey that I’ve taken was in all probability 2,500 miles. That was Fontana, California, to Florida.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:00:16

For most of us, driving as a solution to get from level A to level B. But for Kayla Chavez, it is a lifestyle.

I’m a truck driver — over the highway, truck driver. Over-the-road truck drivers are truck drivers who journey all 48 states they usually’re on over the highway for two to three weeks they usually go dwelling for per week.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:00:42

Just a few years in the past, on the age of 25, Kayla give up her job as a flight attendant and made a life altering resolution: to purchase her very personal truck. She acquired the concept from her boyfriend, who’s now her co-driver. And in the present day they journey the nation collectively.

Our truck is known as “Riggie Smalls” as a result of our truck could be very tiny in comparison with each different truck round us. He is so valuable and so stunning.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:01:12

We caught up with Kayla whereas she was parked, safely, at truck cease in California preparing for a two day journey to Texas. That’s really a shorter journey for Kayla. And as a result of she spends numerous time on the highway. Kayla’s truck looks like dwelling.

Here is my mattress. And you’ve this little fridge right here, and that is the place I’m setting the pc. I do not know in the event you may see it. And then we simply have the cab right here.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:01:41

But though Kayla loves her job and she or he will get a thrill from being behind the wheel, life on the highway has its challenges. From excessive gasoline prices….

$6.85 is the diesel value.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:01:54

To crowded roadways…

There’s this one time the place I used to be caught in site visitors for like 4 or 5 hours. And I’m not even speaking in regards to the site visitors shifting like an inch, I’m speaking a few full cease.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:02:07

Kayla additionally says she’s needed to mentally and bodily adapt to spending a lot time simply sitting nonetheless. But ultimately, to her, it is all value it.

I’ve so many good days trucking and I really feel it is as a result of I get up and the surroundings is so stunning. The skies, I am unable to, there isn’t any solution to describe the skies. The orange, the blue. Being on the highway driving, you do get that sense of freedom. You benefit from the winds and also you simply breathe in. You know, you’ve that privilege to have the ability to drive.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:02:47

I believe even these of us who do not drive for a dwelling can relate to the highs and the lows of being on the highway. The reality is, many people depend on our automobiles to get round each day, particularly in locations with out dependable public transportation. In 2021, American drivers misplaced a mean of 36 hours to site visitors. In New York and Chicago, drivers misplaced greater than 100 hours. And site visitors analytics agency INRIX says these numbers had been even greater earlier than the pandemic. But driving is simply one of many duties many people simply do usually with out actually eager about the way it shapes our lives. So in in the present day’s episode, we’re exploring how the experiences we’ve got behind the wheel impression our our bodies and our minds. And we’ll discuss tips for staying calm and centered in your commute, possibly even having fun with your self. So buckle up and prepare to hit the highway. I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. And it is time to begin Chasing Life.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:03:57

While some individuals like Kayla be happy on the open highway, for others, driving brings up some totally different feelings. So we requested you to name in together with your ideas on the matter. And we heard from numerous you.

Sitting within the site visitors in Seattle, which has been horrendous the previous few years, will increase my nervousness tenfold.

Just yesterday I used to be having such a stunning afternoon and proceeded to nearly get in an accident by somebody who was not paying consideration. I simply firmly felt that it ruined my day.

I’ve the worst highway rage. I’m not pleased with it, however I can admit it.

Driving my car round by way of downtown Atlanta could be very nerve-racking. I do find yourself with a quick coronary heart charge. Sometimes I am unable to get out of the automobile and have a full blown nervousness assault.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:04:59

Spending numerous time within the automobile can take its toll. A 2012 examine discovered hyperlinks between longer commutes, decrease bodily exercise, greater blood stress and elevated stress. And there’s additionally one other aspect to driving as effectively, the psychological one. Or, how driving makes us really feel.

Most individuals do not acknowledge simply how huge of a deal driving is. They do not acknowledge how essential it’s to their on a regular basis functioning.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:05:28

That’s Dwight Hennessy, professor and chair of the psychology division at Buffalo State College. He’s additionally a site visitors psychologist, a subject that I honestly did not even know existed earlier than this interview. But make no mistake, working on this subject does not imply Professor Hennessey is a fan of automobiles.

I’ve no specific fondness for any of that type of stuff. And that is in all probability as a result of I’m not an enormous fan of driving.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:05:56

I believe it is so humorous. You’re a site visitors psychologist you are like “I am not a fan of driving. That’s what led me to the field.” That’s why it is like,” I’m a veterinarian. I do not like pets.” You know? .

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:06:10

If you are at a gathering of individuals and persons are describing what they do, how do you describe the sector? What is the sector of site visitors psychology?

Well site visitors psychology is is taking psychological rules and applies it to that site visitors and transportation context. And so for me, it is about taking a look at an individual’s ideas and emotions and behaviors in a really distinctive context, one thing that impacts individuals on a regular basis, immediately and not directly, that they do not even essentially understand in a extremely profound manner. And so it modifications one thing about them or it influences one thing about them that has this lengthy lasting impact that they do not essentially acknowledge.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:06:54

You know, it is fascinating, as I used to be even getting ready to talk to you in the present day, I used to be simply speaking to some pals about this subject of site visitors psychology. And I’ll inform you, Dwight, everybody has one thing to say about this. It does appear to to the touch a nerve for for lots of people, possibly much more than I anticipated. How did you get on this subject of site visitors, psychology.

Personal expertise. I had moved from a smallish metropolis to a a lot larger metropolis. I moved to Toronto and I — Toronto has numerous site visitors. It’s an exquisite metropolis in some ways, however on any given day, attending to the place it is advisable to go could be a actual problem. And it stirred up these emotions for me that I simply I wasn’t prepared for, I wasn’t aware of, I wasn’t encountering in my earlier life. And this was my first week as a graduate scholar, and I had a graduate advisor who had been eager about the site visitors surroundings as this important surroundings in our on a regular basis life. And so it led to some conversations and making an attempt to formalize, for me, primarily: what’s incorrect with with Hennessy?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:08:07

Did you’ve a selected purpose? This was irritating to you. Everyone’s making an attempt to get to the identical place across the similar time. Did you wish to make a distinction, total, in how we take into consideration site visitors or how individuals, people ought to give it some thought?

Yeah, completely. I hate to make use of phrases self-help, however that is actually what it was initially. Like, how do I determine myself out? So, you understand, I’m not feeling so harassed on a regular basis. I’m not feeling so agitated on a regular basis. But once we began pondering larger image, we realized that is one thing that so many individuals encounter. So, the very first thing that we do, like good scientists, is begin to look, effectively, what sort of literature is on the market? And there wasn’t an entire lot of literature on the time about that stress course of and the anger, agitation, aggression course of. So, that is actually what stimulated our our concepts about, floor stage, what are the issues that is perhaps pushing an individual’s buttons, so to talk, and and main them to really feel that sense of arousal and irritation and frustration and stress? And what are the implications of that?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:09:11

Driving is one thing that almost all of us do. This is an integral a part of our lives — that driving commute. And individuals, extra occasions than not, are going to explain it as a nerve-racking a part of their their day. Why is that, do you assume?

Yeah, I believe there are such a lot of elements to that. There are so many issues which can be impacting us. We’ve acquired to focus consideration on different individuals. We’ve acquired issues we’re anticipating that we have to do once we get there. There might even be issues happening in your car like different youngsters or conversations that will contribute to this constructing stress. Most individuals do not consider how nerve-racking driving is until they’re really driving. I do not assume we mirror sufficient on how impactful the stress whereas we drive is on our on a regular basis life. It has a physiological impression on us. Our coronary heart charge, blood stress, respiration. They change. And, as we proceed to expertise these stressors, these physique sources are always being engaged, and people will put on us down ultimately. We additionally improve the chance of psychological issues. It would possibly change our temper, our cognition modifications. So we’d not be as vigilant to issues which can be happening. And so we’d really feel extra nervousness as these psychological issues construct. Now we’re much less tolerant of different individuals and what they’re doing. We’re extra prone to blame them for being the supply of the dangerous stuff that is taking place to us. So now possibly we’re offended. And now we’re offended, aaybe we have to determine what to do about that anger. And so we unleash on them.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:10:53

It looks like there is a element of simply being extra nameless, too. When you are in your automobile, you’re much less prone to be recognized. You’re extra prone to be nameless. And possibly for some individuals that enables them, or allows them, or empowers them to behave in ways in which they in any other case would not.

So we encounter anonymity and different environments, however it’s it is totally different once we drive. So the opposite individuals do not know who we’re. And so we are able to do issues and and possibly check out issues that we would not in different environments. But if you flip that round, we additionally do not know who they’re. And that to us is problematic as a result of it is laborious to foretell who they’re and what they could do. We really feel the misplaced sense of management due to that as effectively. And I make comparable arguments once I discuss in regards to the aggression. So anonymity is an enormous a part of why individuals then translate that stress into aggression. Because I can now do one thing that different individuals will be unable to determine who I’m. They cannot essentially get again at me. And once more, these are issues that occur in different environments. It’s simply they occur on a distinct scale whereas we drive.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:12:12

Are there various kinds of driver personalities? I imply, did you consider it that manner?

There actually are. That is among the issues that I sometimes have a look at. So individuals discuss offended driver types and that one’s pretty apparent. These are the individuals who simply have extra triggers. They get offended extra usually due to extra issues and it lasts longer and it impacts a lot extra about them. But we even have the alternative of that. We have some people who find themselves far more affected person drivers. That’s simply their model. They’re very easygoing individuals. Right. So the personalities and types aren’t essentially all dangerous issues. When we discuss individuals’s driver types, there’s often a mix identical to personalities, proper? We’re a mixture of issues, so I’d in all probability be a mixture of anxious driver in some methods…with cautious. There are set off factors, and considered one of them predominantly is when someone does one thing actually, actually harmful and places me and my household in danger. And so what we attempt to do is use, effectively, what are the elements of our character that is perhaps actually impacting who we’re as a driver? Understanding that that site visitors surroundings has some actually wealthy, distinctive and impactful triggers and stimuli that are not essentially issues that impression us in different environments.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:13:38

So that, and that is tremendous fascinating, is the particular person you’re if you’re driving then your true self? Or, do individuals change?

In some methods, each. There’s a prevailing thought that claims you drive the way in which you reside. That’s one of many outdated, outdated statements that we’ve got from site visitors psychology. And there is a fact to that. So, in my space, one of many issues that I do is is anger and aggression. So offended individuals are usually extra offended drivers. aggressive individuals are usually extra aggressive drivers. So, that is a basis. But then an individual’s character, whereas we discuss it typically is one thing that is constant over time in conditions, there actually is a situational component to it. So I give it some thought this fashion that all of us have totally different elements of ourself that can come out in several contexts relying on the stimuli and the triggers from these environments. So, for instance, you may need part of your self that comes out extra usually if you work as a result of the state of affairs dictates that you have to be a sure Sanjay on today, as a result of that is what’s anticipated of you. But then you definately would possibly exit with your folks and a distinct a part of your character comes out. My level is that there are issues if you get behind the wheel that could be triggering one thing in you that solely come out in that site visitors surroundings or predominately come out in that site visitors surroundings.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:15:06

Whether you are an anxious driver, an offended driver, or extremely cautious, understanding your personal driver character and your triggers might be step one to feeling extra calm and extra centered behind the wheel. After the break, Professor Hennessy goes to share his tips for a smoother experience.

That is the million greenback query. I’ve to be sincere, that is the query I get requested most. Like, what can we do?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:15:31

That’s forward. After this fast break.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:15:42

And now again to Chasing Life. As a trauma neurosurgeon, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impression that errors whereas driving can have. I’ve seen total households within the working room due to a crash. It simply breaks your coronary heart. That’s why I believe Professor Hennessey’s analysis is so essential.

I do not assume that we must always actually discuss site visitors security as being secure or unsafe. Because it is a dimension. And so once we say issues like, “oh, this is a safe engineering or enforcement or educational kind of process.” My response is it is safer, however it does not essentially make it secure as a result of driving is just not secure. There’s nothing about driving that secure. It’s an extremely harmful course of. We idiot ourselves in numerous methods into believing that it is, quote, secure as a result of it is comforting. It’s a part of the event of attitudes the place it is self-protective as a result of if we thought each second that we drive, we may die, that might be overwhelming. And so, my specific situation with it’s because if we discuss issues as being, quote, secure, typically it might take away, from us, an emphasis on doing the issues which can be safer.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:17:05

I believe that that’s such an fascinating manner of framing it. And I’ll inform you, I believe we in all probability have handled the identical factor when it comes to educating our youngsters to drive or, you understand, being being at that form of stage of life, but in addition possibly, you understand, watching older individuals, your personal dad and mom even driving. But, you understand, once I take into consideration my dad and mom, I ponder typically I fear in regards to the security situation and, you understand, they’re extra susceptible. You know, in the event that they had been to get injured, it would be an even bigger situation for them due to their frailty now at this age. But are there cognitive advantages to driving? Is there one thing good that comes of it for them, do you assume?

For aged drivers, yeah. I believe there is a freedom. Losing a license as an older driver may be actually damaging to an individual’s self-concept. So having that mobility, having that freedom. And not simply aged drivers, I believe there’s one thing even for youthful drivers. My youngest son has simply gotten his personal automobile and he is pretty younger for that milestone and he saved his cash and he purchased it. And to him, there is a satisfaction in that. And I do not imply that in like a adverse manner, that simply it makes him be ok with himself to have invested his cash to buy that factor, to have the ability to come and go at at his whim reasonably than depend on me. He needs to have that factor that enables him to be unbiased.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:18:29

Yeah.

So so yeah, these are, these are nice cognitive issues.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:18:32

I believe simply speaking to you, Dwight, it looks like possibly we’ve got comparable approaches when it comes to how we’d take into consideration educating our youngsters to drive. You mentioned your youngest simply acquired his personal automobile. But I’m simply questioning, you have been doing site visitors psychology for a very long time, did it have an effect on the way you taught your youngsters to drive?

My private take is I believe we focus an excessive amount of on coaching the mechanics of driving. And do not get me incorrect, I’m not saying we should not do this, however I believe what we fail to do is prepare on the psychology of driving, of recognizing and understanding the threats and the hazard with out going overboard. Like, here is day one: that is it is a machine that would kill you. That’s that is an excessive amount of. That’s that is too harsh. They’re going to tune that message out. But in the event you, I believe, educate a wholesome respect for the likelihood you could be the very best driver on the planet, however there are different individuals on the market which may not be. And how do you cope with that in the event you’re in a site visitors state of affairs? How do you reply if these sorts of issues occur? So I believe there’s completely nothing incorrect with us educating the way to presumably cope with conditions which may by no means come up.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:19:51

I believe that is a such an essential level. And I’ve acquired to inform you, so each of my dad and mom are automotive engineers. And we had an incredible love of of automobiles andto the purpose the place weekends in our storage at dwelling, we’d be tinkering with automobiles. Back when, you understand, you might really have a look at an engine and know what to do with that. You know, and also you pop the hood. So I simply grew up with that and I like to drive. My spouse is fascinating as a result of she grew up in a really totally different form of manner. She does not take pleasure in it as a lot as I do. She needs to be out of that surroundings as rapidly as attainable. People who discover that nerve-racking, are there stuff you would inform them? Techniques, even, to make it extra fulfilling.

That is the million greenback query. I’ve to be sincere. That’s the query I get requested most, like what can we do? And all people’s response, all people’s de-stress goes to be particular person. But among the issues that that stress inclined drivers can do are issues like: plan upfront and, you understand, know your routes. Some individuals will take heed to radio site visitors experiences to keep away from the extremely congested areas. Some will plan alternate routes or know the alternate routes upfront reasonably than simply type of wing it as they go alongside. Honestly, I believe the largest a part of coping with all the weather of ourselves as drivers, no matter our driver character or driver model finally ends up being is to self consider. To spend a while actually determining who am I as a driver and being sincere and coming to phrases with that, so as to determine these issues. So I believe numerous stress inclined drivers endure the stress. They simply take the stress, they take it as only a given. I’m going to drive and I’m going to be harassed with out actually reflecting what can I do to be proactive, to be what’s known as an issue centered coper reasonably than a extra reactive coper or an emotion centered coper?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:21:59

You know, once I take into consideration the longer term and I ponder in case your head goes right here as effectively, Dwight. Autonomous automobiles have gotten a factor. They acquired a methods to go. But if we’re a predominantly autonomous car society in some unspecified time in the future, does that remedy among the issues that you simply’re speaking about?

It actually solves among the potential points. But right here, here is the place engineering and psychology merge. I believe it is essential for us to not simply determine that we are able to engineer security. Again, this isn’t a shot at engineering. Engineers assume like engineers. But ultimately, it is people which have to make use of that engineering. Because if the concept is that we simply get in, tune out and the whole lot goes to be superior after that, then I believe that’s is misguided. Because individuals will determine the way to break guidelines. People will determine the way to circumvent security options. They already do this. How do I get the seatbelts attached, in order that I haven’t got to put on my seatbelt? So that the sunshine does not trouble me? Or the sound does not hold bugging me, and many others.? Right? So individuals will discover a solution to to interrupt these these guidelines. So, it is extra than simply engineer a safer car.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:23:24

No matter how good the know-how will get. We are nonetheless human beings, and the way we behave as human beings can nonetheless be unpredictable. Fascinating dialog. Quick final query, how would you describe what sort of driver you’re in the present day?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:23:40

With all you have discovered, Dwight.

Honestly, lots of people ask me that like, are you a greater driver or are are you extra conscious or stuff like that? And I believe the easy reply is sure. The course of during the last 25 years has been self-reflective and the way do I reside out what I’m preaching to different individuals? But I nonetheless have driver flaws. My household would agree. There are nonetheless occasions once I really feel anxious once I drive. There’s nonetheless occasions once I get offended once I drive. So it is a journey, proper? It’s not a sudden transformation. So I believe what I’ve tried to do is perceive the button pushing, perceive the issues within the surroundings which can be a problem to me. How do I believe extra realistically about different drivers? Because these for me are the predominant triggers. Rather than get utterly annoyed, what else can I do? Can I chortle it off? Can I attempt to perceive them as a human being that makes errors? And this simply occurred to me the opposite day. Apparently, I used to be too near the road on an off ramp curve, and someone felt the necessity to let me know, though they had been three automobiles behind me that I had been violating some rule that could be placing someone else in danger. And so my first thought may very well be, “listen, jerk, you’re three cars behind me.” And I may flip out and I may now out of the blue be in a very totally different headspace and and harassed and anxious and offended. Or I may say, “oh, I can understand why they did that, because maybe they were coming up on me and they..” So, put myself of their sneakers to acknowledge that I do issues that push different individuals’s buttons.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:25:28

As Professor Hennessy mentioned, it does take time to really feel extra comfy, extra assured on the highway. But the extra optimistic experiences you’ve, the better it will get. So earlier than you are taking your subsequent drive, here is some tips to remember. Tip primary strive listening to your favourite music or podcast.

So that has that calming impact. It additionally has the the great distracting impact. So not the distractions in order that you do not know what is going on on round you and you may’t drive. But the distraction from the sources of stress.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:25:59

Tip two: If you possibly can, convey a co-pilot.

So having someone provide you with suggestions on among the issues which can be taking place or simply permitting you to vent or simply protecting your thoughts off among the nonsense that is happening in a site visitors surroundings round you.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:26:18

Tip three: Make the within of your automobile as comfy as attainable.

If you are in a extremely scorching driving surroundings, that bodily stimulation goes to arouse you. So having a cushty car, and that does not imply luxurious. Comfortable as in it is it is a spot that you simply’re having fun with, so something that may change your temper. It’s known as an incompatible response. If you have acquired one thing that makes you cheerful, it is laborious on the similar time to be offended.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:26:48

And lastly, tip 4 involves us from Kayla, the lengthy haul trucker we met initially of this episode. When she’s on lengthy journeys, she passes time and stays centered by noticing the pure magnificence throughout her.

So for the primary half-hour of my drive, I do not placed on any music, I do not play any podcasts. I simply look forward and I take all of it in.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

00:27:17

I believe the concept of discovering one thing to take pleasure in throughout your drive, whether or not it is inside or outdoors of the automobile, is a extremely good thought. For me, which means benefiting from the one-on-one time I get with every of my daughters when I’m driving them — or these days — after they’re driving me. It in some way makes the Atlanta site visitors, the place I reside, not so dangerous. Sometimes we even strive our fingers at slightly carpool karaoke. We’re not dangerous. It’s these easy moments that make the experience fulfilling, a optimistic a part of my routine. I usually discover that is the reply in life — discovering the enjoyment within the on a regular basis. And if any of those tips had been useful for you, or in case you have some tips of your personal, I’d love to listen to about it. Record your ideas as a voice memo and electronic mail them to asksanjay@cnn.com Or give us a name at 470-396-0832 and depart a message. We would possibly even embrace them on an upcoming episode of the podcast. Chasing Life is a manufacturing of CNN Audio. Megan Marcus is our govt producer. Our podcast is produced by Emily Liu, Andrea Kane, Xavier Lopez, Isoke Samuel, Grace Walker and Allison Park. Tommy Bazarian is our engineer. And, a particular because of Ben Tinker, Amanda Sealy, Carolyn Sung and Nadia Kounang of CNN Health, in addition to Rafeena Ahmad, Lindsey Abrams and Courtney Coupe from CNN Audio.

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