Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

The dangers of a long commute

Penelope Trunk recounts a harrowing incident of drowsy driving in an article about hitting rock bottom with an unfit job.

I’d like to add “physical pain” to the list of dangers. Long hours in stop-and-go traffic literally are a pain for me: Relentless acceleration and braking causes my knee to hurt, and my carpal tunnel starts acting up from extended sessions gripping the steering wheel. After the one-hour mark, there are few things I want more than to get out of the car and stretch my legs.

Taking the same route day after day can lead to boredom, which could increase the risk of drowsy driving like Penelope experienced. That’s why I’m always looking for ways to lessen the stress of a long commute, such as taking alternate routes to keep myself challenged or singing along to pop songs on the radio in an Elmer Fudd voice (try it, it’s fun). There’s also that Great Chariot, the Metra train, and I appreciate opportunities to let someone else press the pedal for a change.

My driving commute isn’t always a pain-ridden nightmare, and I can break up the monotony by running errands after work. This, however, leads to a new problem: “rapid wallet weight-loss syndrome”. Rather than face an hour and a half on the Tri-State or sitting on Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville held up by a clot of cars, I’ll shop for household supplies after work and likely end up spending more money than if I ran a controlled shopping trip on the weekends.

I have no plans to leave my job so I’ll keep “working with what I’ve got” when it comes to the commute. As long as I have options, I’ll consider my commute manageable if somewhat long. I can say this now, but ask me again in five years when I’m ready to live on gruel and carrots to afford a house closer to work. Seems there’s always a price to pay when it comes to commuting.

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Filed under: Commuting, ,

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