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Commuting to Work, Driver Distractions, Longest Commutes - Power of 50 - AARP... Skip to content

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50 Minutes on the Road

What happens on the commute to your job?

The average commute is 50 minutes and other facts about Americans' daily drive to work

Photo by David Butow/Redux

Are you distracted when you drive to work?

That's the average total time an American worker spends commuting each day. If you're a man, add 1.7 minutes to that total. Women, you can subtract 1.6 minutes. What's going on as we hoof, pedal, ride and — primarily — drive to work?

What distracts us?

  Percentage of drivers who say they:
Talk to other passengers 96%
Adjust vehicle climate/radio controls 89%
Eat 74%
Use a cellphone 51%
Tend to children 41%
Read a map 34%
Groom 19%

How much gas do we use?

The annual spending on gas per household is $3,235 ­ — a $700 increase since 2010.

How do we get to work?

  All ages / 55+
1 person in a car 76.6% / 78.7%
Carpool 9.7% / 7.3%
Public Transportation 4.9% / 4.0%
Walk 2.8% / 2.3%
Taxi, motorbike, bicycle 1.7% / 1.3%
Work at home 4.3% / 6.4%

What do we listen to? Top rush-hour radio genres *

Morning commute (6 to 10 a.m.)

News/talk/information 14.9%
Country 13.9%
Urban adult contemporary 8.6%
Pop 6.4%
Classic rock 5.4%

Evening commute (3 to 7 p.m.)

Country 13.1%
News/talk/information 12.4%
Urban adult contemporary 9.4%
Pop 7.3%
Classic rock 5.0%

Which cities have the longest commutes?

  Minutes each way
New York City 34.6
Washington, D.C. 33.4
Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 32.2
Bremerton-Silverdale, Wash.

Which cities have the shortest commutes?

  Minutes each way
Missoula, Mont. 15.8
Lubbock, Texas 15.5
Grand Forks, N.D. 15.1
Lewiston, Idaho 14.7
Great Falls, Mont. 14.2


Which are the top metro areas for …?*

Taking public transit New York City 30.5%
Walking Ithaca, N.Y. 15.1%
Bicycling Corvallis, Ore. 9.3%

Also of interest: Are you a smart driver? >>

*Percentage of total commuters.

Sources: Alan E. Pisarski, author of the Transportation Research Board's Commuting in America III; Arbitron; OSHA; the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 and 2010 American Community Surveys

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