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Commuting--a further stress factor for working people: evidence from the European Community. I. A review.

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  • 1Institute of Occupational Medicine, University of Verona, Policlinic Hospital, Italy.


About 100 million workers in the European Community commute to and from work daily. A review of the available data shows that commuting has increased in recent decades as rising car ownership has produced a more dispersed pattern of residential and job locations. In general, average commuting durations are falling, although average commuting distances are increasing as a result of faster commuting modes. However, the number of very long duration journeys have also increased, albeit from a small level. Up to now most research has focused on transport and land use issues, while very few studies have dealt with its impact on health, safety and social life of the workers. The available data indicate commuting to be a stress factor not only because of transport modes, but also by its interference with living and working conditions: namely, reduction of time available for discretionary leisure activities and increased absenteeism at workplace. Long-term effects on health have not been adequately investigated. Well integrated policies and strategies concerning the different aspects of this problem (transport, health, work organization, residential planning) must be developed both at the local and international levels to facilitate adequate solutions for this stressful condition.

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