Commuting is a daily reality for the vast majority of workers, one that you may not have missed while we were all working from home.
But it is also a potential hazard, especially for people on non-standard working patterns, because driver fatigue is one of the major causes of road accidents. Moreover, studies have shown that it can be a major factor in causing obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia.
Average commute times are getting longer. A 30-minute commute used to be considered relatively long, but nowadays it's not uncommon for people to commute an hour, or even two hours, to and from work. The average commute time for US adults is around 50 minutes.
Commuting can also impact your performance at work, with the time it takes to get to and from work contributing majorly to a worker’s burnout risk. A 2019 study of Australian commuters found that people with longer commutes take more unplanned absences than those with shorter commutes.
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 ills include sleep disturbances, fatigue and concentration problems.
A 2017 study found that people with longer commutes are more likely to suffer from depression, to have financial concerns, to report feeling stressed by work, to be obese and less likely to get seven hours of sleep each night.
In summary, as one aptly titled Vox article put it, “long commutes make you fat, tired, and miserable”. While commuting may be an inevitability for most people, there are ways for you to make it safer and more bearable.
If you want to find out more information about this topic or get strategies to combat the risks of a long commute, we highly recommend our Advanced Fatigue Management course. This affordable and comprehensive resource is jam-packed full of information and activities to provide you with the most up-to-date scientific and medical understanding about fatigue.