People are returning from Labor Day vacations, but the roads may be less crowded, per IBM's second annual "Commuter Pain" survey. The survey shows that 55% of commuters are likely to have opted out of a long Labor Day Weekend driving trip and that 34% have ditched a driving trip in the last month due to traffic.
The firm says the decision to drive less over the weekend will 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.
The survey polled 4,446 drivers in 10 metro areas in the U.S. -- New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Fifty-two percent of respondents said roadway traffic has gotten worse in the last three years, and 16% think it has gotten much worse. This is an improvement over last year -- when these numbers were 63% and 24%, respectively -- but still reflects an extremely high level of discomfort with the daily commute, per the Armonk, N.Y.-based company.
The survey also said frustration is up, with 45% (up from 37% last year) saying start-stop traffic is the most aggravating part of the commute; 32% identify aggressive/rude drivers (up from 24% last year) as the reason for frustration.
Fifty-two percent of respondents said that if commuting time could be reduced, they would spend it with family and friends -- nine points higher than 2008.
Also this year, 20% said that $3.50-per-gallon gas would lead them to seriously consider alternatives to driving alone; in 2008, it was 9% at that price level.
"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," said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM's global public sector. "The time has come for cities and states to embrace real, long-term solutions that unclog our nation's roadways."