When I first started this job, I left my home at 8:00 am and got to the office at 8:30. Traffic was pretty bad on I-85 that time of morning, so sometimes I’d get stalled in traffic and have to call in that I would be a running a bit late. After a year or so, our hours changed, so I started leaving the house at 7:30 and getting in around 8:00. The traffic wasn’t so bad then, but it started getting worse.
When I was starting at 8:30 I would work until about 5:00. Now I leave the house around 7:00 and get to the office at 7:30 so I can beat the traffic, but I still work until about 5:00. As I swam along I-85 with the throngs this morning, it occurred to me – Everyone is getting up early to beat the traffic. Either that, or traffic is just getting worse and worse in general.
It seems I’m not alone in this observation. Last month USA Today ran an article with these same observations.
Americans are leaving home earlier and earlier to beat the rush and get to work on time. Census data released today document the ever-lengthening commutes: In 2000, 1 worker in 9 was out the door by 6 a.m., the new data says; by 2006, it was 1 in 8. That might not seem like a big change, but it has put more than 2.7 million additional drivers €” for a total of 15 million €” on pre-dawn patrol.
This “commuting creep” is changing the lives of tens of millions of Americans. It affects everything from the breakfast-food industry to television viewership trends, from traffic-signal timing to newspaper delivery times, from carpooling patterns to personal fitness routines. Increasingly early commutes also are altering workers’ relationships with their families.
“What we’re seeing now is this tremendous amount of traffic even before 5 a.m. It seems there’s a big lifestyle change here,” says Alan Pisarski, author of a wide-ranging study on commuting in the USA.
I may have to rethink my strategy. I may try leaving the house at 8:00 just to see what it’s like. While I-85 may not be as bad, Haywood Road would be a nightmare. I’m guessing the interstate would be just as bad.
[tags]commute, commuting, traffic[/tags]