Stress of Cars vs. Non-Car Commutes

Everyone’s always on the lookout for which is worse on the human body – driving cars or travelling via another form of transportation.  I’ve found a few good studies and one in particular showed the effect of a one-time commute. With comparative groups, including a control, White and Rotton tested cardiovascular effects of a bus, car and control (waiting room) commutes.

The effects were clear – those that drove showed increases in pulse rate and blood pressure. Those that rode via bus showed opposite effects and the commute times were essentially the same (Bus commuters took 20.0 minutes with a standard deviation of 12.97 and Car commuters took 19.4 minutes with a standard deviation of 11.2 minutes). I know I’d rather be a passenger than driving if it saves me from a heart attack!

The graphs below demonstrate the results: (White, 1998)

While some may argue that a 20 minute one-time commute is relatively straight forward compared to daily commutes that are often longer, “2 participants got lost and did not arrive at the posttest[sic] site.” (White, 1998) I hope someone found them.

White, S. M. (1998). Type of Commute, Behavioral Aftereffects, and Cardiovascular Activity: A Field Experiment. Environment and Behavior , 763-780.