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Survey: Traffic a negative impact on health

Published: 8:11AM Tuesday December 14, 2010 Source: ONE News

A survey released today has found that 80% of commuters in New Zealand have their health and wellbeing affected by just driving to and from work.

The IBM Commuter Pain Study, the first of its kind conducted in New Zealand, found that almost three-quarters of commuters use a car to get to work or university, among the highest in the world.

The study, conducted by Galaxy research, surveyed 937 adult drivers aged 18-64 years in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, during October 2010.

It looked at the effects traffic has on a person's health and lifestyle and found that the rising dependency on cars is causing a growing number of problems. Along with the traffic congestion and pollution, the study showed that driving to work severely impacted on the nation's health and stress levels.

Eighty percent of drivers find aspects of their commute frustrating.

Stop-start traffic (5%), aggressive/rude drivers (30%) low speed (27%) and unreliable journey time (19%) all contribute to driver frustration.

As many as a quarter of drivers surveyed believe that traffic has negatively affected their health.

This was highest among drivers in Auckland (30%) and lowest in Christchurch (18%) and Wellington (13%).

Across all New Zealand cities, drivers felt that much of this stress could be reduced by the greater use of technology in the management of traffic flows, sophisticated analytics of transport systems and the adoption of more flexibility in work hours.

The survey also found that an added stress on drivers in New Zealand was the increasing cost of petrol.

As many as 31% of those who use a car to get to work, university or school state that if petrol prices rise up to 30% they will seriously consider other options like public transport or carpooling.

The study's leader Suzi Shaw Lyons says a good public transportation system tended to equate to good results in the survey.

She said Wellington had similarly good results to Stockholm, Sweden and that both cities had advanced public transportation systems.

"When you look at drivers in Wellington, only 50% of them are driving in their car alone to get to and from work as opposed to 74% in Auckland."

She said while Kiwis love to complain about traffic, New Zealand fared a lot better than other cities

"We are not as poorly off  in terms of the impact on our health, the amount of time we spend in traffic and the impact on our productivity as in cities such as Beijing, Moscow, Johannesburg."

What stresses you out driving to and from work? Do you feel your daily commute is having a negative impact on your health? Have your say on the messageboard below.

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