Does Stress Cause Accidents?

April 12, 2016

stress and accidentsYes, we here at SZW are concerned with accidents. When a covered loss happens, we pay for the damage to help get you back to where you were before the loss. But we also want to prevent accidents in the first place.

We can make things better after a loss. But there are very few of our customers who don’t wish whatever property damage or bodily injury they suffered never happened in the first place.

So after we heard that April was Stress Awareness Month, we got thinking. What about the relationship between accidents and today’s stressful life for so many of us here in the Mohawk Valley.

Well, it turns out that stress may make you accident prone and it certainly isn’t good for your health. In an investigation noted by David Brown, a University of Alabama professor who studied holiday traffic, 32 percent of drivers were more likely to become aggressive during the holidays.

After analyzing 10 years of crash data in Alabama, he found that there were 18 percent more accidents during the stressful six days around Christmas than Thanksgiving, the heaviest travel period of the year. And counter intuitively, 27% more than the alcohol fueled New Year’s Eve.

His conclusion: More traffic and hair-trigger stress result in more accidents.

Debbie Mandel, author of “Addicted to Stress” says people under stress aren’t living in the present. They’re thinking ahead or thinking behind, which means they aren’t paying attention. “That’s when you get hurt,” she says, “That’s when you’re accident prone.”

But what is stress in the first place? According to the Mayo Clinic website (one of the best sites we’ve found to get answers about your health) stress is based on the “fight-or flight” response.

Stress is an alarm system hard wired into our brain for protection. When you perceive a threat, your body releases a surge of hormones to bolster your capacity for a response. After the threat is gone, your body supposedly returns to a normal, more relaxed state.

The problem for many people is that their everyday lives create stress that doesn’t really go away.

How to Reduce Stress in Your Life

The Mayo Clinic suggests the first step in stress management is deciding to make it an ongoing goal and to monitor your stress level. Identify your stress triggers; job pressures, relationship problems, finances, even daily hassles and demands such as commuting, arranging child care, or over commitment at work.

We checked out the Federal Occupational Health site and found this advice to “relax, renew, and rejuvenate.”

  • Recognize when you don’t have control and let go.
  • Don’t get anxious about situations that you cannot change.
  • Take control of your own reactions and focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control.
  • Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness and personal growth and set realistic goals to help you realize your vision.
  • Take a walk
  • Read a book
  • Go for a run
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Play a sport
  • Spend time with a friend or loved one
  • Meditate
  • Do yoga

Good advice if you want to reduce your stress and the resultant home and business mishaps. But accidents are not 100% avoidable and it’s the mishaps in life that we are here for. That’s why our full time claims manager Cathy LeTray is here to make your life less stressful if something does happen in your car, at your home, or in your business.

Awareness of unhealthy stress is the first step to a better life, so we hope that if you are a bit stressed out, you’ll do everything you can to relax and rejuvenate.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.