What Every Commuter Driver Should Know: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Brandi Smith, Marketing Director
Let’s be honest, in major metropolitan areas, being a commuter can just plain suck. Studies show that the average commute time in these areas is 90 minutes or more to work, one-way. These extreme, or mega-commuters, are on the rise and are those that work in the center of a major metropolitan area but live beyond its boundaries, commuting long distances by train, car, bus or a combination of these.
Whatever mode of transportation you use to get to and from work each day, chances are you face significant congestion, crowds and/or stress. And if you live in an area like me where the public transit system is limited, there is little choice but to drive.
Commuters who drive have it considerably harder with bad weather, traffic jams and accidents congesting the roads. In fact, congestion caused Americans to travel an extra 5.5 billion hours and purchase an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel, leading to a $121 billion price tag to congestion — not to mention 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere due to urban congestion.
Despite all of this, like with anything, there are a series of advantages and disadvantages to being a commuter driver.
As an introvert and a germaphobe, the idea of commuting to work on a congested train or bus, shuffling through stations as people disembark and exit like a herd of cattle and having other passengers cough or sneeze in your vicinity it just plain ick. It’s overwhelming and exhausting. What I love about driving to work is the ability to be alone and in my own space.
We all have those days where we miss setting the alarm, rush around getting kids to daycare, leave the office a few minutes late, or are just slow moving on a given day. When taking public transportation, being just a couple of minutes late will derail you sometimes as much as 30 minutes while waiting for the next train or bus to come. If you drive to work and leave just a few minutes behind, you’re still getting to your destination relatively on time and you won’t be potentially missing an important meeting or get in trouble with the big boss.
Mornings can be particularly hectic. They can be your craziest time of day — particularly if you’re a working parent. Getting yourself and the kids up and ready, making breakfast, packing lunches, cleaning up the morning dishes, and getting everyone out of the house is all done in the span of an hour or two. It can be draining. Driving to work can be your way to decompress from the morning craze before hitting the office. You can listen to music, an audiobook or podcast and practice The Power of While, something our CEO and Founder advocates everyone to do.
Yearning for a side gig to make a little extra money but feeling a bit time strapped due to your commute and other responsibilities? A side hustle doesn’t have to be time consuming. There’s a new side gig in town that you can do while on your way to and from work. As a ShipperBee driver, we send you to the gas and convenience store closest to your home to pick up a few parcels from our Hive and drop them off at a Hive at the gas and convenience store closest to your office. All it takes is just a few minutes a day. You’re your own boss, set your own schedule, and there’s no pressure, no hassle and no time-based commitments. Even better, as a ShipperBee driver, you’re contributing to a healthier planet. For every parcel you help us deliver, you reduce its carbon emissions by 73%. Plus, the more parcels we transfer together the more we can reduce overall congestion by eliminating big trucks from the road.
Travelling in your own vehicle will always create a more comfortable environment. Commuting by bus or train gets increasingly difficult when you have to lug a laptop bag, lunch or gym bag, or other personal items with you. Commuting by car allows you to set the temperature, open the sunroof and feel the sun beating down on your face, listen to music, sing to your hearts content — a much better alternative to hanging around in a crowded bus or train station.
Three out of four commuters are in their cars alone every day. Choosing to carpool offers a series of benefits. It’s not only great to save money on fuel costs but also a good way to socialize and make friends at work. You can even take turns driving with your carpooling partner(s) to help reduce wear and tear and the costs associated with it on your respective vehicles. Plus, in cities that have carpool lanes, you can reduce the time it takes to get to and from the office each day. It also helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions, traffic congestion and air pollution.
When I drive to and from work, I’m fortunate enough to have a couple of options: the highway or the scenic back routes. While the highway can be faster most days, I much prefer the back roads filled with trees, fields and natures beauty. I mix it up depending on my mood that day, but most of the time I’ll happily skip the concrete jungle and aggressive drivers, or the train where I get stuck in dark and dingy tunnels, while getting my personal space crowded by other commuters.
According to one study, commuting is one of the most unpleasant things you can do. The average American commuter spends 42 hours per year stuck in rush-hour traffic – what most of us classify as a full work week! But it’s not just time that these individuals are wasting. Idling in stop and go traffic wastes 19 gallons of gasoline per commuter per year. Remember that $121 billion price tag I mentioned earlier? – it’s astounding!
Commuting has shown to present a series of health issues and each added travel minute correlates with an increase in health problems. It causes considerable stress on the human mind and body, not to mention family relationships. Several studies have shown that long-distance commuters suffer from psychosomatic disorders at a much higher rate than people with short trips to work. Physical symptoms range from headaches and backaches to digestive problems and high blood pressure. Mental side effects include anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, fatigue and concentration problems. In return, it affects your work productivity and even your personal relationships. Many people also report that their diet suffers as a result of long commute times. ShipperBee drivers have the luxury of stopping at gas and convenience locations, many of which offer healthier breakfast and snack food options, that make it quick and easy to get a ‘grab and go’ snack while on their way.
Idling vehicles add pollution to the air and have environmental and health consequences, including contributions to climate change. The end result is not only ozone depletion, but also poor air quality which leads to chronic diseases. Air pollutants, accompanied by fuel and oil spills on our roads getting washed into our fields, also damage our soil and affects crop quality.
According to The Nest, transportation expenses count as the second biggest expense in U.S. households, running as much as 10% to 20% of the household income. And it’s not just the gas. Cars take a beating, particularly when you have a long commute, and it requires a good deal of maintenance to keep them running and in tip top shape. You need to factor in oil changes, new tires, fluid and filter changes, unexpected repairs as the car ages and the overall depreciation as the mileage adds up – it’s necessary and can’t be ignored if you want to get to and from work. Simply put, wear and tear is expensive.
When driving into heavy metropolitan areas, it can be a challenge to find parking, and when you do, it can be extremely expensive. By the time you add in your fuel costs, wear and tear on your car and parking expenses every month, it adds up significantly. It can’t be all bad, however. If you get a parking spot that is a bit of a walk to your office, it forces you to stretch your legs on the way to and from work. With such a sedentary lifestyle, parking away from the office can be your exercise if you miss the gym that day – just make sure that you allow yourself enough time before you need arrive tox the office!