“Extreme Commuters” On The Rise

I do not enjoy commuting, which is why I don’t do it. Here in Connecticut we have terrible traffic… pretty much every day, despite my state being so far spread out. Actually, that is the problem. Most people have relatively long commutes for such a small state, and since there are only a few highways, they get clogged rather quickly.

But to commute an hour and a half or more to and from work every day? That seems insane… and yet, according to one study, almost 3.5 million Americans are doing this every week, a number that has almost doubled in the past twenty years.

An “extreme commuter” is someone who spends a minimum of 90 minutes driving to and from work. So, if your commute is more than 45 minutes one way, you fall into this classification. Living in the middle of nowhere, I often have commutes of 45 minutes or more… but usually for social obligations more so than work. But many people travel even more than this. This extreme commuting can add a whole extra work day to one’s week when all is said and done (90 minutes x 5 days a week = 450 minutes or 7.5 hours).

Why do people go for marathon commutes? Somehow, they perceive the extra driving as “worth it.” Whether it is for a corner office, a higher salary, or living in a house they might not be able to afford closer to work, the motivation for this extra driving often falls into the “stuff” catagory. What they are sacrificing though is sleep, hobbies, social lives, and time with the family. But what really puzzles me is that, despite the prevalence of the internet and the rise of telecommuting (i.e. working from home) that the number of extreme commuters has almost doubled since 1990.

I don’t understand. Not one bit. The cost of gas, the wear and tear on the car, the high environmental footprint, the vampiric effect it has on one’s social life. I see a job as a means to an end… but for some people it seems like work and life hardly ever separate. What is the farthest you would travel for a commute?

Source: BusinessWeek via Treehugger | Image: nzdave

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.