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Out of Our Minds
Friday, April 21, 2006 12:00 PM
Life on the (not so open) road
Curt Rosengren on About Work

How much time do you spend in the car on your commute to and from work? If you're like the general US populace, it's more than it used to be. This article outlines some commute statistics.

  • In the most recent U.S. Census Bureau study, 2.8 million people have so-called extreme commutes, topping 90 minutes
  • 7.6 percent of U.S. commuters traveled more than an hour to work in 2004, up from 6 percent in 1990.
  • The average one-way commute grew by 13 percent to 25.5 minutes between 1990 and 2000.
  • In 1990, only in New York state did more than 10 percent of workers spend more than an hour to get to work. Now that situation can be found in New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and California as well, he said.
  • Commuters typically spent 47 hours a year in traffic jams, up from 40 hours a decade earlier, the study showed.
Do you put the time to use doing anything (one woman in the article puts her five-hour commute to use for a really, really, really long prayer), or do you just zone until you get where you're going?

Have you ever calculated how many days of your life you end up spending in the car on your commute over the course of a year (by adding up all the hours)?  Take the average commute of 25.5 minutes one way from the point above, for example. Let's say that, with vacation time, holidays, sick days, etc. that someone commutes 5 days a week during 48 weeks per year. Then it's...

51 minutes x 5 days x 48 weeks = 12240 minutes

Which equals 204 hours, or 8.5 days

Something to think about.


Christina - 4/24/2006 12:49:14 PM
When I worked in Germany, there was train service available even to the smallest towns. The hour commute on the train was spent sleeping, reading, eating breakfast, applying makeup...or playing games on my cell phone. It was time that could be used relatively effectively. Now that I have to drive an hour, I effectively loose 2 hours of my day to nothing. I can't read, eat breakfast, or put on makeup in the car without endangering myself and others. It just shows the importance of public transportation after all. (I'd take the bus, but it'd be three hours instead of one, and I'd have to transfer at least twice. And as much as I love trains in any form, I hate busses.)
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 4/23/2006 8:46:03 PM
I put on a really great meditation cd and completely relax. I cannot control the traffic and it will be what it will be. When things get slow and/or somebody seems to be stressing I send out an intention for them to have a better day from that point on. The best thing I have done is to sell my current home and move to a place where we can use public transit to commute. My husband can actually walk to his firehall from our house. Cool. I work from home a lot too so that helps. I figure if we are two vehicles off the road that's a bit of a help. I'd rather spend my 8.5 days doing something I love....Living la vida fearless, Jan
joe - 4/23/2006 11:01:25 AM
My travel has doubled since moving to rural Maine. In 1995 it took about 25 minutes to drive the 19 miles. It now takes 45 or more minutes, I haven't move and my distination has not changed. There is just more of us. The 19 miles was just enough to cool down before I got home, now the drive is as stressfull as the job. I have not yet figured out when my professional position went from a "calling" to a four letter description called WORK. Time to do something more "Worthwhile!"
Go4Baroque - 4/21/2006 5:10:55 PM
I commute about 50 minutes each way on one of Chicago's L trains. I have the following routine: Trip to work, 1st leg (before transfer): business reading, generally a business/technology book or magazine (Fast Company, Business 2.0, Wired) 2nd leg (after transfer), I listen to music. On my way home, 1st leg: zone out and rest from the day 2nd leg (after transfer): listen to music or pleasure reading. It's a shame that train commutes are unavailable to the vast majority of people in the U.S. I'm able to use the time very productively.
Dude - 4/21/2006 2:27:33 PM
We're all gonna die anyways, so doesn't really matter in the end.


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