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.

Filed under: Commuting, ,

A wet welcome to the workweek

Today’s unseasonably warm and stormy weather made for a soggy, slow evening commute. There was an accident on eastbound Lake-Cook Road, and gapers slowed the westbound drive. It was dark, so I couldn’t see the condition of the vehicles, but at least one ambulance left the scene. I hope those involved will be OK.

All weather issues considered, I guess the drive wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been (those involved in accidents may disagree). I think traffic may have been slightly light because it’s a Monday, although it is many people’s first day back at work after the holidays.

Tomorrow is Terrible Traffic Tuesday. Maybe I’ll take the train.

Filed under: Commuting, , ,

The Never-Ending Rt. 120 Project

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It’s starting to feel like the intersection of Route 120 and Alleghany Road has been under construction forever. This T-intersection gets a lot of action in the mornings with commuters heading south on Alleghany. The Village of Grayslake is funding an intersection improvement here, to include traffic signals and (I presume) the addition of turn lanes. The signals are up, but construction of the turn lanes has been halted (perhaps due to the winter weather?).

I’m sure the new signals will speed up traffic flow from Alleghany to Rt. 120 and will make somebody happy, but it seemed that the delays only became longer during the eastbound morning commute. People now have to stop and wait for the signal to change. This intersection – along with the many other bottlenecks along Rt. 120 – contributed to my decision to avoid Rt. 120 and choose a new route to work. Life’s too short to spend so much of it sitting in traffic on Route 120!

Filed under: Roads, , ,

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