Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How Do Americans Feel About Their Morning Commutes?

By Daniel B. Kline – May 7, 2019 at 7:36AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

It's about what you would imagine.

Very few people enjoy commuting. It's time spent in a car, maybe in traffic, accomplishing nothing. In fact, commutes not only cost us time, but they also cost us money: The average commuter wastes 42 hours each year sitting in traffic, which costs $1,400 in gas, according to data provided by There's a physical and mental health cost as well, with people who spend more time commuting at a greater risk for obesity and depression.

In big cities, however, the problems can be amplified. It's not just difficult to get to work -- sometimes it can be downright miserable, and nearly half (48.6%) of commuters in big cities "hate" their commutes according to a survey.

A traffic jam.

Being stuck in traffic can be miserable. Image source: Getty Images.

Who's the most miserable?

Boston may boast the reigning Super Bowl and World Series champions, but it also carries another crown -- it's the city where people are most likely to hate their commutes. More than half (56%) of Bostonians felt that way, beating San Francisco (55.4%) and Chicago (54.5%). Houston scored 50%, while New York City came in just below at 49%

"For some drivers, dread for the commute isn't as much about the time spent sitting in traffic -- it's about the daily activities missed out on instead," according to the report. "Seventy percent of women and 68% of men in busy cities said they sacrificed their free time as a result of having to drive back and forth from work."

People hate their commutes enough that they would be willing to make sacrifices if they could eliminate having to drive to work. Almost 35% were willing to give up social media for a year, while 18.4% would give up all television (including streaming services).

Of course, the severity of the sacrifice varies based on a person's existing habits. The 21.6% who were willing to be single for a year in exchange for not having to commute would only be making a major sacrifice if they're currently in relationships.

What can you do?

Allowing workers the flexibility to work from home can benefit both a company and its employees. A smart employer thinks about the needs of its workers, and offer flexibility when possible. Even letting people work from home a day or two a week can make a major difference in their happiness level.

For employees, it's important to ask, or even to seek out another job that allows remote work. If you can make that happen, it's then important to make sure you do the best job possible -- in part for you, and in part for anyone else who comes after you.

In some cases it's not possible for a company to allow remote work. In those cases, the employer should consider other measures that make commutes easier. Allowing flexible hours can give workers the ability to come in early or late in order to avoid rush hour.

That doesn't eliminate the commute, but it can lessen the pain. This is an area where employers and employees should consider every option and see what provides the greatest benefit.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/29/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.