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Editor at Large

The myth of commuting, driving times

Recently in Atlantic City, we were advised by a local that a particular casino was a 10-minute walk on the Boardwalk.

Turns out it was a 23-minute walk.

It was good exercise, and it’s unlikely that the local deliberately misled us. Rather, he probably just thought it was 10 minutes.

The same concept applies to commuters and commuting time.

Whenever someone tells you his drive to work is 30 minutes, add another 5 to 15 minutes to get the real time from door to door.

I’m like that. I tell people my commute is 35 to 40 minutes, but it’s actually about 42 to 44, door to door. (Even longer if there’s an issue on Route 22 or Route 33.)

Subconsciously, I’m rationalizing that the drive, the time and the expense are not as long and costly as they actually are.

This concept also applies to people when describing how long it is to their house from an interstate or freeway.

“We’re only two minutes off the exit” probably is the most common innocent fib that you will ever hear.

Very few people live two minutes from an exit ramp. More likely, it’s at least five minutes, probably closer to 10 minutes.

But the person is not intentionally lying. He has done that drive so many times that it seems as if it’s just a couple of minutes to his house once he jumps off the freeway. Plus, in conversation, he’s trying to sell to someone that it’s easy to visit him.

GPS systems, of course, usually do not lie when it comes to drive times. So, when someone tells you he’s only two minutes off the interstate – yet your GPS tells you that you’re still eight minutes away – you’ll discover soon enough that “2 = 8 in commuter math.”

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