Importance of a Short Commute Time

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Member Insights by SRE Group

Many workers dread their commute to and from work. With heavy traffic and constant construction, the drive to work can be stressful and put you on edge. Commuting takes up valuable time you might need at work.  It may be worth considering whether to move closer to work after you learn of all the important benefits of a short commute.

Commuting falls just behind housework as the worst part of the day and it’s no surprise–it’s a time waster. In 2005, the median commute time was 25.1 minutes. Today, it’s 26.1 minutes.1 While a minute may not seem like much of an increase, multiply that by twice a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year and you’ve spent an entire workday, 8 extra hours, in the car.

Time spent commuting can be better used for any number of other activities. A short commute could mean a few extra hits of the snooze button or time to make breakfast. Having a few extra minutes in the house to put on makeup or shave, means having fewer distractions while you’re driving. You may even make it into work early which can give you a head start for the day. Who knows, maybe it will lead you to that big promotion you’ve been working for! At night, a shorter commute might mean the difference between making your kid’s game or getting to a show on time.

Another reason people hate commuting–it’s bad for your health. Shorter commute times make people happier and healthier. One research study found that “longer driving time was associated with higher odds for smoking, insufficient physical activity, short sleep, obesity, and worse physical and mental health.”2 Living closer to work also means less time spent dealing with bad drivers. Dealing with bad drivers leads to road rage which is the cause for many wrecks and car accidents.  Driving requires quick thinking and reflexes which can raise anxiety levels for many people.

Not only does a short commute allow you time for other activities and make you healthier and happier, but it also helps protect the environment. Longer drive times and congested roads have significantly increased emissions levels. A typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. That’s an average of 404 grams per mile. Cutting just a few miles from your commute can help reduce your emissions or even cut them out altogether if you live close enough to walk or bike. Living closer to work also saves precious gas money. Already this year, gas prices in Central Ohio are averaging $0.50 more per gallon than 2017. Being able to refuel less often will positively impact your budget.

The benefits of a shorter commute are clear. With average drive times rising, be proactive and looks for ways to commute less. Consider moving closer to where you work or ask to work from home some days. Even changing the time of day you to go to work can help reduce or eliminate traffic congestion. Don’t get stressed out by your morning drive; aim for a shorter commute.