Commuting A Pain In More Ways Than One

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
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Commuting A Pain In More Ways Than One

Commuting is bad for the environment. Emissions from vehicles both directly and indirectly through fossil-fueled and river-befouling power plants, and from construction and maintenance combined with open space land grabs combine to form a toxic stew that is slowly killing us. Something to keep in mind as a reality check during the insane U.S. healthcare debate and the endless go-rounds what to do about the costs and doctor shortages in Canada.

Transportation typically accounts for 1/3 of emissions, and motor vehicles at 2/3rds of that. Commuting trips are about 20 percent of all travel.

The Canadians have done great work in assessing the health impacts from air pollution and accidents. A landmark study by the Canadian Medical Association, No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution pegs the pricetag at $8 billion in 2008, killing some 21,000 Canadians per year. 

A fair estimate is $35 million in costs and 915 fatalities from commuting in Canada per year . Or $350 million and 9,150 deaths annually in the U.S. which has roughly 10 times the population.

 Now a new study by Smartrisk, The Economic Burden of Injury in Canada  shows much those so-called 'accidents' add to the pricetag of commuting. It estimates that transportation-related injuries cost $3.7 billion resulting in 3,067 deaths and 30,932 hospitalizations; transportation is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths.

"Motor vehicle incidents were the most common cause of transport related injuries, accounting for 1,331 or 43% of transport related deaths and over half of all other transport related injuries," said the report. 

Calculating the literal impacts for car commuting comes up with 266 deaths and 3,300 hospitalized injuries and at a cost of $270 million in Canada. And over 2,600 in fatalities, and 33,000 injuries costing $2.7 billion in the U.S.

And who pays the pricetags? The persons in the mirror either through pain and suffering, more bills, higher premiums, and tax hikes. What can that individual in front  can do about it? Go telecommute, locate on busy transit routes, and end free staff parking.

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