The Sad Side Effects of a Bad Commute

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Commuters who drive to work appear to be putting themselves through unnecessary misery at too high a cost.

About 65% of commuters say traffic causes them health problems including stress, anger and reduced sleep, according to a new IBM Commuter Pain Study. At the same time, many drivers aren’t sharing their commuting stress by carpooling, the study suggests.

About 84% of Americans drive a car alone to work while 50% of the rest of the world commutes with others. And despite high gas prices and stressful financial situations, 84% of Americans haven’t changed the way they commute in light of the economic downturn, the study found.

Just 3.1% of U.S. commuters carpool, according to the IBM study, even though numerous local organizations and city and state agencies offer rideshare programs.

About 85% of commuters reported that traffic has stayed the same or gotten worse despite highway “improvements” like added lanes, indicating that the work hasn’t actually made traffic any better, the study suggests.

And somehow cutting commute times wouldn’t just improve drivers’ moods; it could improve commuters’ happiness overall.  About 53% of survey responders said they’d spend more time with friends or family, 44% would spend more time on recreational activities and 42% would exercise more if their commutes were shorter, the IBM study found.

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