Long Commute - Driving Alone

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About

Among workers who commute in their car alone, the percentage that commute more than 30 minutes. The 2024 Annual Data Release used data from 2018-2022 for this measure.

Longer commuting distances in vehicles have been associated with an increase in blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), and a decrease in physical activity.1 Each extra hour spent in a car every day increases the risk of obesity by 6%.2 Longer commute times have also been associated with poorer mental health.3,4

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Data and methods

Data Source

American Community Survey, 5-year estimates

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's reengineered decennial census program. The ACS collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every ten years, and publishes both one-year and five-year estimates. We use American Community Survey data for measures of social and economic factors.

Website to download data
For more detailed methodological information

Key Measure Methods

Long Commute - Driving Alone is a percentage

Long Commute - Driving Alone is the percentage of workers who drive alone with a commute longer than 30 minutes.

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across years

Caution should be used when comparing data across years as data comes from overlapping 5-year spans. Additionally, margins of error for 5-year estimates containing data collected in 2020 increased compared to prior 5-year estimates. For more information about data comparability please visit Comparing 2022 American Community Survey Data.

Numerator

The numerator is the number of workers who drive alone (via car, truck, or van) for more than 30 minutes during their commute.

Denominator

The denominator is the number of workers who drive alone (via car, truck, or van) during their commute.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to track progress with some caveats. It is important to note that the estimate provided in the Health Snapshots is a five-year average. However, for counties with a population greater than 20,000 individuals, single-year estimates can be obtained from the resource below.

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Subcounty Area

Means of transportation to work is used to calculate commute time and driving alone, which can be calculated for census tracts and census block groups.  

References

1 Hoehner CM, Barlow CE, Allen P, Schootman M. Commuting distance, cardiorespiratory fitness, and metabolic risk. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012;42(6):571-578.

2 Frank LD, Andresen MA, Schmid TL. Obesity relationships with community design, physical activity, and time spent in cars. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2004;27(2):87-96.

3 K√ľnn-Nelen A. Does commuting affect health? Health Economics. 2016;25(8):984-1004.

4 Hilbrecht M, Smale B, Mock SE. Highway to health? Commute time and well-being among Canadian adults. World Leisure Journal. 2014;56(2):151-163

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