We’ve all heard the phrase “Hurry up and wait.” If you’re in a line at an event, trying to leave a sporting event, or commuting home after a long day’s work you’re familiar with the phrase. American highways are looking less like effective boulevards and more like parking lots. While everyone’s individual commute may be different, the frustration is universal. Not only is the average daily commute vexing, but it’s also an increasing expenditure for Americans. The costs of the daily commute are wide-ranging, and it’s time to do something about it.
If it seems like you’re spending more time in standstill traffic lately, it’s not your imagination. Americans are wasting more time sitting in traffic and not moving than ever before. According to Newsweek, Americans spent an average of 16 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. By 2010, that number had grown to 38 hours a year. Today, Americans spend an average of 42 hours wasting time in idling vehicles. In at least one American city, the idea of spending a mere 16 hours seems almost laughable. In Washington D.C., commuters can spend up to 82 hours a year in traffic jams, almost twice the national average.
The current daily commute has major financial ramifications as well. A USA Today study has found that the cost of commuting to work has increased to an average of $10 per day for the average commuter, and $12 a day for full-time workers. The financial losses don’t stop there, however. According to the Newsweek article “The Texas Transportation Institute report estimates U.S. highway congestion costs $160 billion a year, including from lost productivity, gas burned while idling in traffic and additional wear and tear on vehicles.” Driving an inefficient clunker can significantly add to commuter’s financial woes.
It seems like common sense that the daily commute is harmful to mental health, but there is reliable data to validate this theory. According to New York Magazine, “Social scientists Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger surveyed about 900 women in Texas, asking which of their daily activities made them happiest. At the very bottom of the list — worse than working or cleaning house — was the morning commute.” Further, a long daily commute can have a negative impact on marriages and general health.
Luckily, Americans do not have to be resigned to their current daily commute because there are ways to improve it. Many of these improvements begin with their daily driver. For one, time can be saved either by carpooling or by finding a vehicle that allows for HOV exemptions. Additionally, a fuel-efficient, new vehicle can offer significant savings over a smog emitting clunker. And, since the actual commute is not going anywhere, drivers can greatly improve their experience by loading up their vehicles with the latest technology to ease the pains of traffic jams. An ultimate commuter vehicle can immeasurably improve the daily commute and help give the current daily commute the boot.