Road safety website EducatedDriver.org just released the most soul-crushing statistic you may read all week: On average, Americans spend 408 days of their lives commuting to and from work. That's well over a year stuck in your car, and much of that time is probably spent in a fit of rage because people don't know how to merge or use their turn signals.
Not only does commuting eat up your precious time, but it also affects your health, causing stress as well as physical maladies like headaches, backaches, and fatigue. However, the severity of the situation all depends on where you live, so if you're looking to avoid traffic-induced road rage at 8 a.m., you may want to check out EducatedDriver's interactive map of commute times across the country. (Note: This map applies strictly to drivers as opposed to straphangers, but even those who take public transit know how mind-numbing a stalled train can be.)
With an average round-trip drive of 23 to 36 minutes, destinations represented by aqua-colored dots are the ideal location for commuters. However, those tend to be concentrated in the Midwest, where the variety of job opportunities might be fewer. Major cities near the coasts, on the other hand, have some of the longest commute times. Shown in red, the average round-trip commute in Seattle is 59.2 minutes, compared to 60.8 minutes in Long Beach and Los Angeles, and 64 minutes in Boston.
And if you really want to be depressed, check out the legend at the bottom of the map, which shows the number of days you'll lose commuting to and from work over the course of a lifetime. If you live in a red dot city, you can kiss 603 days good-bye.
These statistics are based on the assumption that the average American starts working full-time at 18 and retires at age 63. Over the course of a 45-year career, the average person spends about 250 days per year working for a grand total of 11,250 working days in a lifetime. Using U.S. Census Bureau data on the daily round-trip commute times for 1000 cities and towns across the country, EducatedDriver then did the math and displayed their findings in this interactive map.
As bleak as the results may be, commuting is simply a fact of life for many. However, there are ways to make your drive more productive. One survey revealed that using your commute time to prep for your workday can help boost your career satisfaction. And if you're trying to learn and better yourself, there are always audiobooks, podcasts, and other great commuter gifts you can use to make your time spent feel more meaningful, plus a wide variety of audio courses you can take. Think of it this way: In 408 days, you could totally be fluent in French. Bonne chance!
This article was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.