Driving from one’s place of residence- whether it is your home, hotel, or hostel for working people- to your office daily is a practice that almost every working professional must undertake.
The struggle for commuting to work over long distances is very real, and many factors play a role in deciding how far is too far. While one may have the option of public transport, depending on them can have problems.
On days when your preferred mode of public transport system is not working for unavoidable reasons, you have to miss work because there is no other way to drive. To avoid these scenarios, many people prefer driving to work themselves.
Another reason someone may prefer to drive is that the place they stay in does not have many options for public transport. And they are compelled to drive themselves.
Whatever the reason behind driving, various factors must be considered to determine whether driving over long distances is worth it. Looking into some aspects will help you determine how far you are willing to drive five days a week for your work.
What Distance Can Be Considered a Long Drive to Work?
Studies in America have shown that the average commuter drives for about 46 minutes while driving to work. Most Americans consider driving 1 hour for work is a long distance. Driving for 1.5 hours to 2 hours is a very long drive.
In terms of distance, if one has to drive for around 30 miles, one way to commute to work means a long drive.
Of course, the results mean different things for people of different states. In some cases, driving for even 30 minutes on roads that have very little traffic would mean one has driven for a considerable distance.
On the other hand, on roads with heavy traffic, especially in cities like San Francisco or New York, even driving five blocks to the office could take hours, depending on the traffic conditions.
Does Your Job Justify Driving for Long Distances?
The main reason why anyone would be willing to drive for nearly an hour or more one way to work every day is that the position must be really good. That makes it over two hours of driving every day.
So the question arises whether the job you are driving to is worth it. Is it your dream job? Is it everything you hoped for, and is the commute the only challenging aspect, which is why you are willing to compromise on it?
Moreover, it would be best to consider the finances that come with a long drive.
For example, an average 30-mile drive to work one way can cost you over 6 dollars in gas and about 3 dollars in maintenance. The figures will differ according to the actual distance you have to drive.
- Does the job pay you enough that you have ample surplus left to tend to your essentials and have some savings, even after paying for the gas and car maintenance?
- Your car will depreciate faster when you drive it over long distances daily, and you have to be sure it won’t break down.
- Will it be cheaper if you keep driving to work or rent a place close to your workplace?
Answering these questions will help determine whether your long drive to work is justified.
Factors That Determine How Far is Too Far While Commuting to Work
The final decision about commuting long distances to work is based on certain factors. Here are some of them.
1. The Speed of the Vehicle
You have to consider the roads on which you will be driving. When you travel long distances, you will encounter various speed limits that will determine how fast you can navigate and how much you can cover in a particular time.
Your speed will be higher on the freeways but slower in the residential suburbs or the busy business districts. Consider your route to determine the time you have to reach the office.
2. Traffic Conditions
The traffic conditions on highways and freeways differ significantly from the city streets. You are bound to face traffic congestion, and you need to determine what kind of alternative routes you have if you suddenly meet with a roadblock.
This can be crucial over long distances because just about anything could happen in that stretch.
3. Night Driving
Is your driving distance so long that you have to drive at night by the time you have to return home? Driving at night could be difficult, especially if the route is long and the roads are not always safe.
You may even risk an accident as you will be tired after a hard day of work, and tiredness may overpower you when you drive long distances at night. Since you will have to do so for a considerable time due to your job, you must consider this factor.
Psychological And Physical Effects of Commuting Long Distances from Work
Even if you like commuting, if you keep doing something for extended periods, it is bound to affect your psyche and health. Here are some of them.
1. Being Late for Work
Since you would be driving to work long distances, you will always be stressed about whether you will be late for work. Any traffic congestion, changes in weather, or car problems will stress you out. Since anything can happen suddenly over a long drive, you will always worry about being late.
That is not an excellent way to start your day, and you will never feel refreshed. On the other hand, to avoid being late, you might try to rise earlier from your sleep, but it could lead to sleep deprivation. That will also stress you out, and you will always feel tired.
2. Lack of Concentration
If you are always tired and stressed from your driving to work, it is evident that you might not be able to give your hundred percent. You will suffer from a lack of concentration, feel unmotivated, and will start liking your job less.
It is vital that you get optimum rest and sleep if you are to do well in your job, but that might not be possible due to your hectic commute.
3. Poor Health
Constantly working under pressure can lead to a rise in blood pressure and cholesterol. You could also lose weight, find it challenging to eat on time and skip meals, eat junk food you pick up along the way, and suffer headaches and other issues while driving.
You could also have musculoskeletal disorders from sitting in one position and driving too long. You also have to put up with poor behaviour from other drivers that might flare your temper.
4. Missing Family Time
After spending forty hours or more at work and then driving for long hours, you will have very little time to spend with your family or look after yourself. That could lead to regrets as you soon find a poor work-life balance.
You will hardly see your partner or your kids, which could lead to family discord. You don’t want to regret losing precious time with your family while trying to give them a good life.
On the other hand, you will hardly have time to look after yourself or invest in personal growth. You won’t have time to learn new skills or do the things that make you happy. These are hefty costs to pay, and you should consider them meticulously.
5. Change in Lifestyle
Has commuting to work taken a toll on your lifestyle and forced you to live differently? Maybe you cannot enjoy the sports that you love, or you have to go to bed at odd hours. Studies have shown that you could lose up to 15 hours a week while traveling to work. That is a lot of time you could have otherwise used more productively.
This could result in dissatisfaction, and you could come to dislike your job just because the drive is proving too much for you. You shouldn’t have to give up on how you live, and if you find you have no time for yourself, it is time to reconsider and think if you are driving too much for work.
How Far Are You Willing to Drive for Your Dream Job?
The critical question here is how far you are willing to drive each day to get to your dream job, and what does this entail? Is this job going to be a major milestone in your career?
Does this job give you the perks and benefits and a hefty pay package that can help you build a great life for yourself and your family? Is this job everything for which you have prepared your entire life?
If you can justify driving yourself to work for 15 hours or more per week and driving over 50 miles daily for the job, you should continue this way. If your job does not justify the time, effort, and money you are investing in the drive, and if it is not your dream job, you could start looking for other options.
Another factor to consider here is whether your employer will allow you to work from home on certain days of the week. Many employers are now okay with hybrid workplaces after the pandemic, and if you can work at least two to three days from home, it could save you some effort.
However, if that is not an option because of the nature of your work, then you must reconsider.
Does Your Job Require Additional Travel?
If you have a job that makes you travel even during work hours, it can be very detrimental to your health. For example, you may drive 15 to 20 hours weekly to get to your workplace.
Now, if you have a job that makes you travel, like a sales job or working in a mobile unit, you could again end up driving or traveling for another 20 hours. That will take a severe toll on your health.
On the other hand, does your employer give you the traveling expenses? Hence, a lot depends on the nature of your work that you must consider while calculating the total distance.
Coping With the Effects of Driving Long Distance to Work
If you cannot do anything about your situation and driving a long distance to reach the workplace is your only option, you may take up some coping strategies to help you.
- Work on your posture. Always try to sit upright and make sure your seat is comfortable. Sitting and driving for too long will result in body aches that you must try to mitigate.
- Include some stretching exercises in your routine. This will help you combat leg issues by pressing the pedal too long.
- Listen to some light music while driving. This will help combat the drudgery of daily commutes to a great extent. However, do not let it divert your attention.
- Make sure you are adequately hydrated and not hungry while driving. That will make you irritable, and you will get into tiffs with other drivers.
- Try to look out for other routes while driving to work. Sometimes it can help reduce distance, and you will have an alternate route if there is some problem with your regular route.
- Make sure your finances are in order to pay for gas, car maintenance, and insurance on time. That will take away a lot of stress.
Your drive to work is a significant part of your work life. You have to drive daily, and even if the distance is long, you cannot give it up because it keeps you employed.
However, it is a good idea to give it some thought and do everything in your power to make driving as easy as possible.
You may consider moving closer to the workplace if your domestic and financial conditions allow it. Weigh all the factors so that you stay satisfied with your job even if driving is difficult. If you can sort this out, it will be a pleasant workplace in every respect.