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Study: Men More Likely to Get Road Rage

Study: Men More Likely to Get Road Rage

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Ed Yeates ReportingMen are more likely to get agitated behind the wheel and more at risk for elevated blood pressure when they drive under time restrictions. That's the conclusion of a University of Utah study on the physiology and psychology of road rage.

We may be nice guys most of the time, but behind the wheel our whole composure changes when stress piles on. The University of Utah Department of Psychology had study participants drive a simulator. Without warning, cars cut them off, brake, or hog the passing lane.

Volunteers could make a little extra money if they traveled from point A to point B under a tight schedule.

Dr. David Strayer, U of U Dept of Psychology: "You can get people to start swearing at inanimate objects or reacting to inanimate objects - giving obscene gestures and so forth to what are just computerized renderings of vehicles."

Men were more likely to lose their cool than women. But even more, men experienced elevated blood pressure.

Dr.Tim Smith, U of U Dept. of Psychology: "If you spend a half hour a day in the car, your blood pressure being ten or fifteen points higher than normal - that's not a trivial increase."

In some men the blood pressure stayed up.

Dr.Tim Smith, U of U Dept. of Psychology: "If you're ruminating, sort of rehearsing all of these injustices that you suffered behind the wheel, that will keep your blood pressure up."

Kris Marvel has a theory why men are more at risk.

Kris Marvel: "It's probably more socially acceptable for men to be aggressive that it is for women."

But no matter the reason, the ultimate goal from studies like this is prevention.

Dr.Tim Smith, U of U Dept. of Psychology: "Take a deep breath, count to ten, that kind of thing. Quiet that little building storm that you would feel otherwise."

The study showed if you remove the time restrictions behind the wheel, overall driving actually relaxes and blood pressure goes down even when incidents occur.

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