Traffic on Airport Road in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: AHMED KUTTY/Gulf news archive

Abu Dhabi: Spending long hours behind the wheel may cause mental and physical stress affecting work and family life, experts in the capital said.

The expert comments supported the suggestions of the Abu Dhabi Police which have urged residents to live close to their place of work.

“Taking shorter trips means reduction of stress levels in the body, and fatigue. Doing so will also have a positive impact on the environment as pollution levels due to exhaust fumes, are reduced,” said Dr Ghada Al Shaikh a Family and Social Consultant at Afaq Al Tamayoz Training and Consultancy Services.

Excessive driving means dealing with traffic which can also reduce drivers’ patience while taking a toll on their health and fitness.

“It also causes focus on the road to become scattered. Troubles faced while driving due to traffic, especially during peak hours, are a source of danger on motorist and is one of the most important causes of accidents,” she added.

Residents in the capital agreed echoing the Al Shaikh’s words, describing the rush to work from home to be ‘hectic’.

“I live 25 floors above my office. The time I used to spend rushing around and getting dressed, I now spend relaxing. This is a lot better to me than driving to work and having to deal with the condition on the road where everyone is also on their way to their jobs,” said 25 year-old Tareq Shehab who works at the New York University in Abu Dhabi.

Similarly, Engineer Mohammad Arif who lives in Musaffah but has been temporarily assigned to operations in the Western Region told Gulf News that he drives a total of three hours to and from work, and has seen many accidents on the road.

“I have no doubt that most of the incidents are caused due to fatigue. The Tariff Road which I use to commute to the Western Region is only two lanes one of which is always occupied by heavy vehicles. A big portion of the road also does not have street lights. Therefore driving there requires a lot of concentration,” he said.

“I have to leave my home at 5:45 am to get to my office at 7:30. If I dose off for a few seconds at the wheel, I may crash. It is difficult to get out of bed and by the time I get to work, I have very low morale and wish I could relax instead,” he added.

Dr Maha Ahmed Abdel Halim, a psychologist at Dar Zayed for Family Care noted that when driving long distances, motorists often end up thinking about several things at the same time.

“Stress and pressure increase the level of Adrenaline in the blood, and motorists have to react within short notice to several elements; either to avoid arriving late to work due to traffic congestion or to control the vehicle as they drive through amber lights at intersections. This kind of stress negatively impacts drivers’ health and causes a range of chronic diseases,” Dr. Abdel Halim said.