Commuters 'more stressed than pilots'

Commuters can experience greater stress than a fighter pilot going into battle or a police officer facing a rioting mob, according to a study released yesterday.

Commuters can experience greater stress than a fighter pilot going into battle or a police officer facing a rioting mob, according to a study released yesterday.

Many workers feel extreme pressure when their journey to work goes wrong, said a psychologist, Dr David Lewis, who carried out the research.

While fighter pilots or police officers feel stress, they have the advantage of being in relative control of their situation.

The hapless commuter, on the other hand, can do nothing if their train breaks down or they get stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway.

Dr Lewis, an expert on stress who has written several books on the subject, said the consequence was higher levels of stress among commuters in extreme circumstances.

He analysed the heart rate and blood pressure of pilots in flight simulators and police officers in training exercises.

The readings were then compared with those from 125 volunteers who have had their stress levels monitored while commuting over the past five years, as part of the ongoing research.

Dr Lewis has also identified what he calls "Commuter Amnesia" - where people forget large chunks of their journey to work because they are feeling stress. He said: "Since many people spend at least a working day each week travelling to and from their jobs, it means over a working lifetime commuters could be obliterating some three years of their lives.

"People suffering from even small levels of stress and discomfort during their journey can experience Commuter Amnesia and, unless something remarkable occurs, they will remember absolutely nothing about their journey."

Dr Lewis was part-funded by Hewlett Packard, as part of the technology firm's research into flexible working hours and stress for workers.

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