Driving a car makes people more depressed, more sleep-deprived, and less mentally healthy across the board, a new study has found.
What is happening?
The study, conducted by researchers in Spain, found that the amount of time a person spends commuting to work in a car directly correlates to decreased sleep, increased depression, and increased feelings of being under pressure, Business Insider reported.
The study’s findings echo other reports that driving a car makes people less happy and less healthy. According to one study conducted in Sweden, couples in which one partner commutes for more than 45 minutes are 40% more likely to end in divorce, reported Slate.
According to the American Heart Association, people who drive to work instead of taking the train or bus are at greater risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, as the Huffington Post noted.
Why is this concerning?
None of this is good news for Americans, 76% of whom commute to work by car, according to a Statista survey reported by the World Economic Forum. Most of the urban areas in the U.S. are not walkable, according to Congress for the New Urbanism, and many Americans have inadequate public transit, per the American Public Transportation Association. This means that you really need a car to get around.
Not only are gas-burning cars bad for our mental health and physical health, but they’re also bad for the health of our planet. According to the EPA, 29% of our country’s total planet-overheating air pollution comes from the transportation sector, with 58% of that total coming from light-duty vehicles, i.e., passenger cars. In contrast, trains account for 2% of the total air pollution from the transportation sector.
What can be done about it?
Even electric vehicles, which cause significantly less pollution than traditional gas-powered cars, are far from the most efficient way to get around. The best way to ensure the health of our planet and decrease the mental toll of having to drive everywhere would be for our government to invest in public transit, such as the energy-efficient high-speed rail system in China.
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