If you live in Dallas, you probably own a car. Dallas is notorious for not being a very "bike friendly" or a walkable city. After moving here a little over a year ago, I was shocked at the number of tolls around the metroplex. Now, there are even more that have been built and opened. The traffic in Dallas is the one thing that stresses my patients out more than anything. It's sad that we can't get from point A to point B without paying a hefty fee or burn any calories by walking or biking.
There are 6 tollways in Dallas, with 4 more projects in progress. The North Texas Tollway Authority charges hefty fines if you don't have a toll tag. Not only have the number of tollways increased, they often raise the rates a significant percentage at various times throughout the year. Last year, the 5.9 percent increase equated to a $10 million dollar increase in revenue for the NTTA. More often than not, Dallasites commute to work. A 20 mile round trip will cost you roughly $1000 each year in tolls. This does not take into account: gas, wear and tear on your car, time spent away from your loved ones, health care costs due to stress, etc.
What can you do to help alleviate some of the daily stress you will inevitably encounter driving on Dallas roads?
- Plan ahead and use public transportation, even if it is only 1-2 days a week. The decrease in amount of stress from dealing with the traffic in your own car might be worth it! (This may also save you money from driving to lunch and possibly making unhealthy choices you wouldn't normally make if you packed your own).
- Carpool. Try getting a group of coworkers together to share the burden of tolls, traffic and gas by carpooling a few days a week.
- Bike/Walk. If you live relatively close to where you work, try biking or walking to work instead. The early morning exercise will be sure to give you an energy boost and workout before you even reach your desk! Try planning out your route on the weekend so you know which roads/trails you can safely use along the way.
- Take care of your body! Driving to/from work can cause added tension and pain. Defensive driving causes us to tighten the grip on the wheel, lean forward and contract your shoulders. These postures can cause significant problems over time. The trapezius muscle is most commonly affected; this is the muscle that sits on top of your shoulders and also connects to the back of your head, and down the middle of your back. Over time, the forward head posture we develop from leaning too far forward can lead to a loss of the normal curve in your neck, headaches and degeneration down the road. See a chiropractor to make sure you know how to have the proper posture while driving. Regular adjustments help to maintain proper joint motion and keep you functioning optimally in this fast paced city.
- Breathe! Your chiropractor or holistic practitioner can also teach you proper breathing techniques to help in stressful situations both on and off the road.
Unfortunately, we do not know if there will ever be and end to the tollroads in Dallas but, there are things that you can do to help manage the daily stressors you encounter. Consider adding public transportation, carless options and chiropractic to your regular routine.