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War and Peace: The Two Stories of a Driver’s Daily Commute

Study shows commuters want a calm trek, but don't aways get it.

by on May.07, 2018

Drivers across the country view time spent commuting to and from work as "me time."

It seems that increasingly daily commuters climb into their cars, trucks or utility vehicles with one of two mindsets: War or peace.

A new survey by Cars.com shows that the average commuter is on the road 22 minutes and the vast majority, 79%, are looking to make their drive time more relaxed and focused on them.

Pushing the Envelope!

“With the vast majority of commuters traveling by car, it’s important to have a vehicle that’s not only safe and reliable but comfortable too,” said Jenni Newman, editor-in-chief of Cars.com. 

“At Cars.com, we use data science and human insights to help people find a car that will match their lifestyle for the long haul. It’s important to think beyond price and color when looking for your perfect match — the interior of a car and how it caters to your needs and interests, as well as your vehicle’s fuel economy, can make or break your daily commute.”

(What do drivers want in their commuter car? Click Here for the story.)

Distracted behavior, like taking selfies, is on the rise and dangerous.

The study looked at a broad cross-section of drivers, but also focused on five cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.: all urban areas known for ridiculously bad traffic. The results of the closer look give insight into the “war” and “peace” of traffic.

Overall, 40% of commuters love driving and being in their car, and that was mirrored in Chicago and Houston. However, 26% of Los Angeles commuters are stressed behind the wheel, and nearly a quarter in Washington, D.C. admitted to being annoyed or angry (23%) and fatigued (24%) compared to 15% and 13% nationally.

More than a third (38%) of commuters admit to being likely to swear at other drivers when experiencing road rage. Out of the five surveyed cities, nearly half of Washington D.C.’s commuters (49%) admitted to this followed by 46% in Chicago and 45% in Los Angeles.

So the best places for a calm, collected rush hour? Atlanta, Chicago and Houston.

Distracted driving behavior may be much worse in cities like Houston, where drivers cop to being more likely to tap out messages while stuck in traffic.

(Click Here for Ford’s vision of transportation in the future.)

Atlanta’s commuters are most likely to drink iced tea and least likely to be annoyed or angry behind the wheel compared to the other four cities surveyed. However, Atlanta drivers do have a rebellious streak – they’re most likely to not pay attention to speed limits and most likely to text while driving.

Houstonians often feel content while driving and think their fellow drivers are courteous. They spend their time in the car eating and drinking and listening to audiobooks. Commuters admit to being distracted by their smartphone and picking their nose, the study noted.

Like Houstonians, Chicago commuters feel content and happy when driving. In fact, they’re most likely to be “zoned out” or daydreaming while driving. They have one of the best commutes of the five cities in terms of congestion and traffic, and spend their drives singing, listening to music and drinking coffee.

Conversely, Los Angelenos hate their commute the most and are most likely to be stressed while driving. The city also ranks worst for commuter friendliness, commuting time (tied with Washington, D.C.) and congestion. Notably, Los Angeles residents are most likely to give up their vehicle for an autonomous car (41% compared to 28% nationally).

(To see more about Tesla’s Musk striking a sweet spot after a sour pose with analysts, Click Here.)

D.C. commuters are most likely to feel annoyed, angry and exhausted when driving, and more often take out their frustrations by swearing. Their commutes are long (tied with Los Angeles), so D.C. commuters use the time to catch up on work, with 20% admitting to reading on their smart device while driving compared to just 7% nationally.

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One Response to “War and Peace: The Two Stories of a Driver’s Daily Commute”

  1. Dick says:

    Rush hour is bad enough, but consider all the people who “voluntarily” drive up to their cabin every Friday and return Sunday in even worse traffic.