Results from the 2016 census performed by Statistics Canada state that for many, daily commutes are getting longer and more arduous. In that year 1.5 million Canadians endured commutes of 60 minutes or longer (one way) every day. That number represents nearly seven percent of all commuters, with more than half (853,610) driving alone or with passengers and the remaining number taking public transit. The number of people with long commutes of more than one hour increased by about five percent from 2011, with the total number of car commuters increasing by three percent over the same period of time. The average distance travelled for long commutes was 40 kilometres.
Those with commutes of less than 60 minutes who chose to drive to work numbered 11,763,405 in 2016, and increase of nearly three percent from 2011. The average distance travelled was eight kilometres, which took about 24 minutes to complete from parking spot to parking spot.
A commute of any length, but especially a long commute, can have detrimental affects on health and well-being, with people reporting higher stress levels, more strain in family relationships and a higher financial impact. In addition, long commutes greatly increase the chance of being involved in a car accident.
Tips for Commuting
Getting snarled in a traffic jam is stressful. It can be very hard to not lose your temper, even though there is really nothing you can do. And once you lose your temper you are more apt to make dangerous decisions, such as driving more aggressively and failing to allow others to change lanes or merge properly.
A fortune.com article titled “6 ways to survive a hellishly long commute” offers a few tips and tricks to hopefully help make the drive to work a bit more bearable.
- Use technology. GPS devices in many vehicles will provide alternate routes if they detect a problem ahead, or at the very least allow you to mentally prepare yourself for a longer than usual drive.
- Avoid the less attractive routes. Even if it takes a few minutes longer, it can make a big difference to actually enjoy your surroundings and the scenery while driving. Calgary has plenty of pretty roads along our rivers and valleys … enjoy them!
- Allow music to set the mood. Program your phone (and use Bluetooth, of course) with your favourite upbeat songs to keep the atmosphere light. Although interesting, often news radio stations can add to stress and increase anxiety.
- Consider carpooling. A ride with a friend is always more enjoyable, and it also increases safety as there are now two or more sets of eyes paying attention to the road trying to spot potential hazards. Plus, it reduces wear and tear on your vehicle.
- Try transit (at least once in awhile!). We all know that Calgary’s public transit system can be unreliable, but the truth is that it has been steadily improving over the years. It may be that a route to work that was once impossible to take with transit is now much better. Check out Calgary Transit website, which assists in planning trips and provides all the details necessary to get there.
- What about telecommuting? Businesses these days are more and more aware that working from home increases productivity and general job contentment. If you have a very long commute, consider speaking with your boss to see if telecommuting one or more days a week is a possibility.
Practise Defensive Driving Habits
Defensive driving habits are always your best bet for avoiding an accident. The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1, defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” This basically means that in spite of what is going on around you, as a defensive driver you are always in control of your vehicle and yourself.
Some defensive driving habits include:
- Keeping speed levels measured
- Anticipating the unexpected
- Being alert and aware
- Watching and respecting other drivers
- Following at a safe distance
- Adjusting to weather conditions
- Avoiding braking unnecessarily
Do Not Be Distracted
Even though commutes can be very boring and it’s easy to let your mind wander thinking about work and the endless chores that need to be done, it’s never a good idea to be distracted behind the wheel. That fact takes on even more importance when you are frustrated and in a rush to get to your destination.
In Alberta, you can be charged with distracted driving for carrying out any of the following tasks when operating a vehicle:
- Using a handheld cell phone
- Composing emails or text messages; the law applies even if you are stopped at a stop sign or red light
- Using any type of electronic equipment while the vehicle is in motion (including MP3 players, laptop computers, cameras and GPS units, among others)
- Reading, writing, or drawing while driving
- Grooming oneself while driving (including flossing, fixing hair, applying makeup, etc.)
Those found guilty of distracted driving will receive a $250 fine and three demerit points on their driving record.
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