Monday, July 5, 2010

Daily Commute Gets Even More Stressful, Study Finds
(June 30) -- Americans are increasingly stressed out about their commute, but they haven't changed their daily routine, according to a study out today.

The report, from IBM, found that the daily battle to get to work is taking a toll on the health, social lives and even job performance of many Americans. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said their commute gave them sleeping trouble and anger issues.

Across the globe, it seems, just getting to the office can be a traumatic event. The IBM Global Commuter Pain Study surveyed 8,192 people in 20 major cities around the world and found that commuters are having a harder time dealing with rising gas prices, long commute times and rude drivers.
Highway traffic
David McNew, Getty Images

But in the United States, that stress hasn't done much to change our behavior: While 85 percent of Americans said traffic has gotten worse or stayed the same in the past three years, the vast majority of us -- 84 percent -- continue to drive to work alone anyway, compared with 56 percent, on average, worldwide.

The study has an overall margin of error of 2 percentage points, and 5 percentage points when comparing cities.

The bad economy doesn't seem to have done much to change things, either. Despite fewer Americans working and higher gas prices, 84 percent say they haven't changed their commute because of the downturn.

Why the disconnect? It's not entirely clear, but IBM, not surprisingly, thinks technology can help. The company has worked with cities across the world to make their commutes less painful.

"The idea is to provide real intelligence data and share it with the people who are actually driving and designing the roads," Florence Hudson of IBM told AOL News in a phone interview.

In Singapore, for example, IBM helped create a system to forecast traffic jams before commuters even hit the road, Hudson said.

"They gather real-time traffic information, compare it to historical information, and then they can predict where the traffic is going to be," she said.

Another possible solution is public transportation. Hudson said cities with solid mass transit systems seemed to fare better than those where cars are the only way to go.

The study found that commuters in bustling New York City, for example, which has a well-developed subway system, were far less stressed out than those in Beijing or in Mexico City.

But American commuters apparently aren't the worst off. According to the IBM study, Beijing, Mexico City and Johannesburg are home to the world's worst commutes.

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