How dangerous is your daily commute?
Sometimes working and meeting the demands of your employer isn’t the hardest part of having a job. For many people, the most challenging aspect of every workday is their commute.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans with a commute time of over 90 minutes per day is increasing. During a long and busy commute, you might face several dangers. Read on to discover just how dangerous your daily commute is.
Commuting on the freeway
Commute routes that take you onto the freeway can be particularly dangerous. These journeys frequently entail making multiple lane changes while other motorists fight their way towards the carpool lane, or attempt to reach freeway exits. To execute such actions safely, you need to sustain high levels of concentration and alertness.
While your morning commute might seem like the most hair-raising part of your day, that’s probably because you’re just waking up and still have a lot ahead of you. Studies show that the majority of commuting accidents happen in the evening when people are rushing to get home. Other factors that contribute to this are poor visibility and accumulated exhaustion from the workday.
Not surprisingly, Friday evenings tend to see the largest number of commuter accidents. As people get ready for their weekends, they’re more likely to speed, overtake other drivers, and perform other aggressive driving maneuvers.
Poorly planned intersections
The freeway isn’t the only dangerous part of the average commute. Many motorists have the unfortunate experience of passing through intersections that are poorly planned. Badly timed lights, a tendency for pedestrians to jaywalk, and other problems and design oversights can increase the chances for accidents to happen.
Driving during high-traffic hours
Most people commute to and from work at the same time. The freeways and major roadways are busiest between the hours of 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. In some areas, rush hours see thousands of cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles sharing the road at once. With more people zipping about, the odds of encountering sleepy, distracted, and aggressive drivers are greatly increased.
In such crowded conditions, the mistake of a single driver can result in multi-vehicle accidents, pile-ups, and road closures among other things. Thus, if you commute in a highly-populated area and during normal commute hours, your drive to and from work is far more dangerous than that of someone commuting in a rural area and at non-traditional commute times.
Distractions and boredom behind the wheel
If you commute any significant distance to get to your job, you run the risk of growing bored and becoming distracted. Many drivers hardly remember their journeys to and from work. After traversing the same routes day after day, they often zone out and let their minds wander.
That’s why one of the most common reasons for submitting a car accident claim is negligence due to distracted driving.
Driving in stop-and-go traffic
Stop-and-go traffic is yet another dangerous element to consider. When the general flow of traffic slows down, some motorists tend to maintain their former speeds. They overcome the delays by slow-moving vehicles by weaving in and out of lanes, taking shortcuts through parking lots, cutting off passenger vehicles and municipal buses, and making other daring, reckless moves.
When driving in stop-and-go traffic, drivers are more tempted to pick up their phones or other gadgets. Thus, not only are you more likely to encounter aggressive or erratic drivers in slow-moving traffic but distracted drivers as well.
Health effects of a daily commute
Your daily commute can also have some dangerous health effects. For instance, if your commute happens to be a very long one, you might:
- Fail to get adequate exercise
- Frequently visit drive-through windows when your commute leaves you too tired to shop and cook nutritious meals
- Face exposure to high levels of environmental pollution due to congested traffic and automotive exhaust
Not surprisingly, a long daily commute can also result in high blood pressure, back problems, and elevated cortisol levels among many other health problems.
Psychological effects of daily commute
Long hours of daily commute can also have an impact on psychological well-being. Researchers concluded that these can considerably increase stress levels, concentration problems, and sleep deprivation.
Accumulated stress may become psychosomatic and physically manifest as tension in the shoulders, sour muscles, or headaches. The strain put on individuals who commute also reflects in their family life. Many reported that they are not able to pursue their interests or spend enough time with their families. And the negative impact further ripples out to work productivity.
Having a reliable way to get to and from work is essential. However, it’s also important to consider the different dangers of your commute. Choosing to take the bus or train from time to time, and paying more attention to your surroundings can help you mitigate some of the most common risks that regular commuters face.
Story by Samantha Alvord. She is a legal expert and a passionate writer who works tirelessly to inform people about the field of personal injury, her area of specialty. She has a talent for making complex legal concepts accessible to the public. It is Samantha’s goal to present a clear and structured piece to the reader, which can easily be used as a guide to solving legal matters.