Stressed out commuters are spending 40 extra minutes a day at work in an effort to avoid the worst rush hour jams.
For the average worker, that adds up to two extra days a month spent at work simply because of their commute.
A study into commuter behaviour by Co-op Insurance found that on average people are getting into work 21 minutes early and leaving 18 minutes late to dodge the commuter crush. However, those aged 35-44 are working the most overtime to avoid delays, spending an extra 44 minutes at work.
Affecting family life
The study found that the pressure of the commute was so bad for many drivers that just under half of drivers (42 per cent) had considered quitting their jobs because of it.
Two-fifths of those questioned said their work and private life had been affected by hold-ups on the road, missing meetings or family events because they were stuck in traffic.
Two-fifths of drivers have missed meetings due to being stuck in traffic. Picture: Shutterstock
And, even if they weren’t late, the same proportion felt that a stressful drive into work made them less productive.
According to Dr Dawn Sant, a psychologist and stress management trainer, a stressful commute can even cause short-term memory loss.
She said: “Bad moods, increased blood pressure and muscle tension have all been proven to be made worse by driving.”
Roadworks and roundabouts to blame
The Co-op study found that roadworks are most likely to cause delays on a commute (43 per cent), followed by queues at roundabouts (40 per cent), junctions (34 per cent) and the approach to a town centre (27 per cent).
Of those who regularly get stuck in traffic on the way to work, the average time people spend in queues is 20 minutes.
To help people guestimate journey times, Co-op Insurance has developed an online ‘rush hour’ tool, where commuters around key UK cities can see how long it takes to get to and from work in rush hour when compared to other times of day.
Roadworks were the number one cause of delays. Picture: Shutterstock
Nick Ansley, head of motor insurance for Co-op, commented: “Whilst many employers are allowing more flexible working patterns to ensure a good work/life balance for employees, traffic is often an inevitable barrier on the weekday commute.
“Traffic and stressful driving conditions can lead to avoidable crashes. Staying alert and calm is key to ensuring absent-minded driving decisions, which could cause accidents, aren’t made.”
Dr Sant added: “There are plenty of ways you can keep calm behind the wheel and the first thing you can do is make a few simple tweaks to your daily routine.
“Checking your route before you head off, to see if there are any roadworks or diversions in place is key to planning your journey and managing your own stress levels.”