6 Surprising Facts About Commuting in East Texas

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The drive to and from to work cuts into your personal time five days a week. If you have a long commute that means you have to get up earlier, spend more on gas and stay away from home longer. Unfortunately, commute time has been increasing for Americans and Texans for more than a decade. So how does yours stack up? Let’s compare.

Most East Texans Have a Shorter than Average Commute

Across the nation, the average time for the drive to work is 27.1 minutes. That means in a Monday through Friday work week, people who take two weeks of vacation and work the rest of the time spend an annual 225.8 hours getting back and forth to the office.

In Texas, the average commute time is 26.7 minutes. That’s just slightly less than average, but still eats up almost an hour of every workday for the round trip.

Some States Have Speedier Drives

An American Community Study from the U.S. Census Bureau found people in South Dakota get to work fastest, averaging 16.6 minutes for their morning drive. Wyoming and Montana aren’t far behind, with around 17 minutes one way. Alaska comes in third at 18.5 minutes.

It Could Be Worse

If you work in Washington D.C., the average time it takes to get to the office is a whopping 43.6 minutes. New Yorkers have about a 35-minute commute.

Commute Time Varies Widely Within Texas Counties

Several East Texas counties have one city that acts as a hub for area workers, with communities clustered at varying distances from that hub. For example, Tyler acts as the major employment center for Smith County, Longview employs many Gregg County residents and people from all over Bowie County travel to Texarkana. Those larger cities are also where most of the population clusters, shortening their commute.

That means averages don’t tell the whole story. In Smith County, while the average is 23.8 minutes, 13.1 percent of workers take less than 10 minutes to get to work. However, almost a quarter of employees drive up to an hour to get to their workplace. Both groups are far from the average.

Smith County Workers Come From All Over

The Tyler area provides jobs for people from all over the region. As of 2017, of the 103,344 people working in Smith County, almost half of them (46,989 people) lived in another adjacent county. About 54 percent live in Smith County, the rest drive from Van Zandt, Henderson, Anderson, Cherokee, Wood, Upshur, Gregg and Rusk Counties.

Commuting is Safer in Texas

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) compiled data from 2012 and 2016 to analyze when and where people had fatal traffic accidents while driving back and forth to work. Texas was in the bottom 10. New Hampshire, South Dakota and Oklahoma topped the list of states where fatal crashes occurred during commuting hours.

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