As Nashville and the surrounding areas continue to grow, there is an urgent need to reduce traffic. If you’ve lived in the Middle Tennessee area for awhile, you may remember a time when you could get anywhere in thirty minutes. Those days are long gone as Nashville’s average commute time is inching towards an hour.
An increase in people driving farther to work in conjunction with people not utilizing a carpooling system plays a part in why the commute time has doubled.
While ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have become popular means for getting around town, the idea of carpooling has been around long before ride-sharing apps were created. Many of these so-called “casual carpooling” systems have been in place long before smart phones, especially in major metropolitans like San Francisco.
It turns out, carpooling isn’t just an efficient way to get where you need to go; it’s also good for your health.
Every year a company called Vitality Health conducts a survey of over 34,000 workers to decide what company provides Britain’s healthiest workplace. In their 2016 survey, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe and Mercer, they found that longer commutes are linked to increased stress levels that lead to increased rates of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain, divorce and even depression.
Overall, the study found that the mental well-being of workers showed deterioration with longer-commuting. The findings stated that those with long commute times were:
- 33% more likely to suffer from depression
- 37% more likely to have financial concerns
- 12% more likely to report multiple dimensions of work-related stress
- 46% more likely to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night
- 21% more likely to be obese
At the societal level, the study found that the length of someone’s commute can be related to a variety of issues from voting to their emotional well being. People who have longer commutes are less likely to vote, more likely to be absent from work up to 30 working days and less likely to escape poverty.
“Employees commuting less than half an hour to get to work gain an additional seven days’ worth of productive time each year compared to those with commutes of 60 minutes or more,” states the study.
In 2013, a couple doctorate students took an indepth look into the societal impacts of long commute times by conducting a study using national survey statistics to measure the effects of commuting by factoring in socioeconomic status and political interest. They found that simply due to time constraints of commuting, most who had longer distances were less likely to be politically engaged. It also showed a connection between those that commute and the typical class bracket: most are lower-income. When low-income and commuting combined, the lack of time served as the single most deterrent in being able to vote.
You may have only considered the traffic or environmental benefits to carpooling, but sharing a ride with someone can affect your mood, stress levels, productivity and more.