Traffic jams. They’re a fact of life that we all have to face. Whether we’re commuting to work or eager to explore the sights and sounds of the big city, we’re bound to find ourselves stuck in a never ending sea of vehicles at least once in our lives.

Some of us may not mind the traffic. After-all, it does give us a little extra time to catch up on the latest episode of Sword and Scale, but for many, traffic jams are seen as one of life’s unnecessary burdens. They’re a waste of time, they’re a waste of fuel, and most importantly, they could be psychologically damaging.


According to a recent article published in Scientific American crime can be triggered by certain emotional cues. For instance, if a sports fan’s team suffers a major loss, incidents of domestic violence increase by 10 percent. In the same way that the outcome of sporting events can trigger our emotions, so can the frustration of being stuck in traffic.

Los Angeles is considered to have the worst traffic in the country. One article claims that Angelenos spend 80 hours a year stuck in traffic. Using information collected from a traffic monitoring app, Scientific American compared 25 million traffic observations to two million police reports collected from the same areas. Their analysis showed that incidents of domestic violence were likely to increase by as much a six percent during unexpected traffic.

Interestingly enough, it was not impacted by predictable times of heavy traffic. Rush hour had practically no influence on a person’s behavior, because certain times of day are expected to have an increased amount of traffic. Their data showed that it was only during times where the traffic had been reported as unexpectedly high that it seemed to have taken a negative toll on commuters.


This study shows us how important it is to take steps to de-stress during our commute. Rather than seeing traffic as a burden, put the time to good use.

Listen to a podcast or play classical music. This could help to relieve anxiety by keeping your mind relaxed but busy.

Even simply enjoying the time from being unplugged could make a positive impact. All day long most of us stare at some sort of screen – whether it’s a computer, a phone, or a television. Take the time to appreciate the scenery or invent stories about the people in the cars surrounding you. Anything to take your mind off that pesky traffic.