IBM recently conducted its second annual IBM Commuter Pain study, and guess what: 55% of those surveyed say they’re unlikely to make a long Labor Day weekend driving trip.
After seeing the traffic out on Interstate 35 in Central Texas yesterday, I can certainly see why.
Yep, it seems commuters are voting with their gearbox this holiday weekend, and the vote is to keep the car in “Park.”
Sensitivity to higher gas prices, desire to spend time with family instead of commuting…all factors cited in the study as suggesting the recession is taking its toll on urban motorists.
Let me just get down on the ground again and thank IBM for being so far-sighted when it comes to employee work policies. Many of we IBMers can work anywhere we have a phone and Internet connection, and I’ve gotten so used to NOT being in traffic (and trust me, I used to commute quite a bit), that when I DO get out on Mopac in Austin I just downright freak out.
What are all these cars doing out here, I think? Who are all these people? Where are they going?
So why is traffic so frustrating? Listen to more details of the study:
- 45% identify start-stop traffic as the most frustrating part of their commute. Yep.
- 32% identify aggressive/rude drivers. Uh-huh.
And what would folks do if they could get some of that commuting time back? 52% would spend it with family and friends, of course.
That’s just a downright heartbreaker.
And 37% would exercise more.
So, if you can think of a way to allow people to work out in their cars while their friends and family hang out cheering them on with some quality down time, you could make a fortune!
Anne Altman, IBM’s general manager for the global public sector, explained the study this way: “Conducted at a time of great change in the United States, the Commuter Pain survey clearly demonstrates the vast impact that commuting and traffic congestion have on our economy. The time has come for cities and states to embrace real, long-term solutions that unclog our nation’s roadways.”
Some other sound bytes that back up Anne’s observation:
- 34% report that they have decided not to make a driving trip in the last month due to anticipated traffic – the same percentage as last year. These decisions have a major economic impact, as the reported destinations of these cancelled driving trips are: 25% recreation, 25% shopping, 16% entertainment, 9% eating out, 8% work, and 6% vacation.
- More than one-fifth (21%) of daily commuters say the recession has made them change the way they get to work, with 17% of drivers in this category carpooling more frequently, 30% increasing the number of days they work from home, and 26% taking public transportation more often.
- At the same time, lower gas prices this year have caused 23% of respondents to alter their commuting habits in a different way, with 19% of this group carpooling less now, 19% taking public transportation less often, and 17% working less often from home.
- 27% think accurate and timely road condition information would help reduce travel stress – four points higher than last year.
- 86% say they have been stuck in roadway traffic in the last three years. The average delay is one hour.
- The reported trouble spots for traffic congestion remain very similar to last year, for example, I-95 in both Miami and Washington, DC, as well as the Beltway/495 in DC.
- Only 3% of the survey respondents think roadway traffic has improved substantially, and no city in the study is significantly above that score.
IBM Commuter Pain Index
IBM has compiled the results of the survey into an Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most onerous. Here’s how the cities stack up:
The index is comprised of 10 issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, 3) value of time; agreement that: 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic.
The IBM Commuter Pain Survey was conducted by IBM to better understand consumer thinking toward traffic congestion as the issue reaches crisis proportions nationwide and higher levels of auto emissions stir environmental concerns.
Such events are impacting communities in the U.S. and abroad, where governments, citizens and private sector organizations are looking beyond traditional remedies like additional roads and greater access to public transportation to reverse the negative impacts of increased road congestion.
IBM is actively working in the area of ‘Smarter Transportation’ using a team of 150 scientists and a group of IT services professionals to research, test and deploy new traffic information management capabilities in cities such as Brisbane, London, Singapore and Stockholm.
Findings from the Commuter Pain Survey will be used to assess citizen concerns about traffic and commuter issues; expand solutions like automated tolling, real-time traffic prediction, congestion charging, and intelligent route planning; and serve as a basis for pioneering innovative new approaches to traffic mitigation.
For the complete report, please click here: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/attachments/28320.pdf
Meanwhile, this weekend, please keep your eyes on the road, off your Blackberries and iPhones, and whether you’re in the car or not, enjoy that precious time with family and friends.
Happy Labor Day, weekend, and here’s to no laboring.