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Local psychologist explains how traffic delays could affect health

NORFOLK, Va. – It seems like everyone will be spending their Memorial Day weekend away from home.

According to AAA, 39.3 million people will travel by skies, road, water, and rails this weekend.

AAA said that the most since 2005.

Of those, over 88 percent will drive to their destination.

As everyone is looking to enjoy this three or four day weekend, it doesn’t come without its headaches.

"It does take a toll on our health," Dr. Bryan Porter, associate dean of the Graduate School and a professor of psychology at ODU, said.

Porter said the best defense against congestion and traffic jams is always expect there to be delays.

“I’m very concerned about how our health, stress levels, some of the other quality of life issues are affected by environment and our environment makes it very difficult to travel at ease," Porter said.

In his research, Porter said he's found that slowdowns and delays can make you angry, aggressive and cause your stress level to rise.

“Many people as they stress, what are they gonna do? They’re gonna get up on your bumper, they’re gonna start trying to get cars to move quicker, they may change lanes a little bit too quickly. They’re creating opportunities for risk, incidents, and crashes," Porter explained.

It's something Amneris Santiago has seen all too often.

“This man honked at me and ‘I’m just like – you’re windows up but you’re yelling at me, so I don’t know what you’re saying, so I’m just gonna keep going to that exit," Santeigo said.

She said she find better ways to manager her stress.

“I like to put on good music or call my friends," Santiago.

If you fail to find ways to deal with the traffic, "as you’re exposed to the stress of driving long term, that could make your general stress nature worse.”