Car Commuting, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

Life in the USA is a complete guide to American life for immigrants and Americans. All materials on this site Copyright © Elliot Essman 2014. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Life in the USA
Transportation
The Automobile

Car Commuting
The term “commuting to work” connotes the taking of a daily trip to work in the morning and a return trip from work back home at the end of the workday. Some commuters have access to busses and railroads for this purpose, depending on the community, but many must drive to and from their places of employment on a daily basis. Even those who take public transport must often drive to rail or bus terminals.

Commuting by automobile can be routine, if it involves a journey of a few exits on a major highway or interstate, or a daily nightmare if it involves a complicated trajectory that must traverse a major city. On any commute, however, traffic, construction, and congestion can be a problem. This is especially so because American cities rarely have central planning. The phenomenon of “suburban sprawl” brings large populations into areas whose road systems are often inadequate to handle them, especially during “rush hour.” A journey that takes ten minutes or so on a weekend may require an hour on a workday morning.

Since automobile commuting can be so difficult, many Americans strive to work at home as much as their employment allows, or on a permanent basis if that is feasible. Automobile commuting takes its toll on the person doing the driving as well as on the automobile itself, especially in “stop and go” conditions.

If you commute by car in the United States, you should therefore be ready to formulate strategies for dealing with the challenges that arise. You should investigate alternate routes that you can take in the case of delays. Fortunately, you have some help. Radio stations have morning and evening rush-hour traffic reports, often sent directly from dedicated traffic helicopters. Typically broadcasting every ten minutes or so in a large city, the helicopter reporter will indicate where tie-ups occur, suggest lane changes or even lay out alternate routes. Internet traffic sites are also extremely helpful, especially those that flag areas of construction activity and major accidents.



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