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Here’s How Many Days Each Year the Average American Spends Commuting to Work

For most Americans, the commute to work isn’t the best part of their day and it’s easy to see why, with traffic, accidents, and more. Ever wonder how your daily commute really affects you? And how much of your life you spend in your car on the way to work? Here is what the research says about the average American’s daily commute.

Commuting in America: how much it takes out of your year

In a recent study done on behalf of Valvoline and conducted by OnePoll, information about the average commute in America was compiled. As the New York Post states, this study found that the average daily commute to work for Americans is around 35 minutes.

When added up, that equals around 152 hours every year spent in the car on your way to work. Those hours work out to about 19 full workdays each year. So the average American loses around 19 workdays each year just being on the road.

According to KUTV, another study done by EducatedDriver.org found that the average American will spend more than a week out of the year total commuting to and from work. With commutes being worse in some areas than others. This study found that the longest commutes were typically found in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, the New York City metro area, and Washington DC.

Unsurprisingly, around 63% of Americans admit that the commute is a strong, deciding factor in choosing a job. Most people use the commute time in traffic to their advantage and makeup time lost at work. A shocking one-third of surveyed commuters claim to use their commute to be productive, by creating imaginary to-do lists and visualizing the workday.

Another 28% of those people admitted to making phone calls on the drive, while more than 10% said they utilized the time to improve themselves with things like learning a new language. Almost half of all commuters sing along with some music while they drive, and listen to an average of five songs before they arrive at work. 

Delays, accidents, and traffic

According to the survey performed, Americans are late an average of 77 workdays each year, due to problems on the road like traffic and accidents. And traffic affects us all, with only one in ten Americans claiming their daily commute is traffic-free.

In fact, an average of one-fourth of your daily commute is spent in traffic. It’s not just traffic that causes commuting problems either. Roughly half of the Americans surveyed have had to stop because of car trouble. More than half report that they have experienced some type of commuting disaster, like a flat tire, overheating engine, or malfunctions with wipers.

The consequences of long commutes

Whether your commute is long or something goes wrong while you’re on the road, your daily commute can cause a lot of strain. An estimated 68% of Americans agree that their entire day can be ruined by a long or bad commute. It’s not all bad, however, with an impressive 71% claiming their commute is relaxing or peaceful. In fact, nearly 50% of people claim to take longer on their commute intentionally, to have more alone time before or after work.

Commutes don’t just take away time from your day. They can also be costly. The OnePoll survey found that commutes cost the average person around $83, including costs for tolls and fuel. According to Business Insider, recent research has found that the average person can spend anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000 on transportation and commuting each year.

And the cost of commuting can also be seen in your vehicle’s performance and longevity. The intense and severe style of commuting, with quick stops and bumper-to-bumper traffic, can put serious strain on your vehicle. Vehicles that commute for less than five miles can need more maintenance than long-distance travelers. But less than half of Americans realize that this type of driving is considered severe. Surprisingly only 20% know that short-distance driving can hurt vehicle performance.