If you drive to work every day just like millions of Americans, getting stopped by a traffic light isn’t your favorite thing. It can be annoying and exasperating. The worst, slowest intersections can leave you pounding your steering wheel in helpless frustration.
But it’s even worse than you thought. According to the results of a recently released study, stopping at red lights is even dangerous to your health.
Everyone Knows That Air Pollution is Bad
It’s common knowledge that breathing air tainted with pollution isn’t exactly good for your health. But air pollution might be even more harmful than people commonly know.
In fact, the World Health Organization recently named air pollution as one of the top 10 health risks faced by humans worldwide. It’s estimated that air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths every single year.
And all of that time you spend stuck at red lights? It increases your exposure to air pollution in a big way.
According to the study, the average driver spends about 2% of each commute stopped at traffic lights. And yet 25% of each driver’s exposure to air pollution occurs during that 2% of time stuck at intersections controlled by traffic lights.
What Can You Do About It?
What can you do to avoid elevated pollution levels at traffic lights? Not much. (Unless you can simply avoid driving through light-controlled intersections. And if you could do that, you’d already have done it just to avoid the aggravation of the lights, no?)
But there are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of the pollutants you end up breathing.
According to the EPA, simply increasing the distance you stop behind the car just ahead of you can help significantly. Obviously, keeping your windows rolled up as you pass through the intersections will help too. Keeping your vents open and the car’s fan blowing in air from outside is a no-no. And accelerating gently during each cycle of stop-and-go will help to reduce the amount of pollutants your car generates.
Take Your Mind Off Being Late For Work
Maybe there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud.
The next time you’re late for work, and stewing in frustration at being stopped at a light? Instead of worrying about being late to work, you can worry instead about the danger that the traffic stop poses to your health.
Just for a change of pace.