MIAMI (CBSMiami) – According to a national study, Miami is among the cities with the worst traffic congestion in the country.
Even though we are all stuck in the gridlock, studies suggest it is women that are most affected by long commutes.
It takes South Florida mom Jennifer Aleman an hour and 45 minutes to drive to and from work every day.
But before she starts the arduous trip, she has to drop off her oldest son at the bus stop at 5:30 a.m. and then make sure her youngest son, Matthew, is fed, homework is done and is ready for school.
He walks to the bus stop after Aleman leaves.
Aleman’s commute begins at 6:15 a.m. when it’s still dark out. When it rains, Aleman’s trip can take as long as two hours and 30 minutes from her home in Homestead to her office at the University of Miami’s medical campus in the city of Miami.
A number of studies over the last decade put Aleman’s plight in a larger context – commuting stresses out women more compared to men.
“Sometimes I’ll be in my car and I just want to go home. I want to turn around and say forget it. I can’t do this today,” said Aleman.
A study out of the U.K. titled “It’s Driving Her Mad” found that women feel the psychological impact of commuting four times as strongly as men.
Dr. Jeff Newport is a psychiatry professor at UM’s Miller School of Medicine.
“It’s more of an issue between mothers and fathers than women versus men,” said Dr. Newport.
He believes the discrepancy began half a century ago. Following WWII, women entered the work force but never reduced the amount of household responsibilities.
“Because of our culture, and the way it has evolved over the years, it does place a disproportional share of the burden upon women,” he said.
Commuting, for women, gets added to an already heavy workload that often includes children and the day-to-day household tasks that come with being a mother.
Aleman said, “I get home and 7 or 7:15 [p.m.] and it’s okay you need to run out and get something for dinner or you need to run out to get something for school for a project for the kids.”
For many women, commuting is not just a matter of getting through rush hour – it’s also running through the list of things that have to get done when they get home.
The study found that even though men still leave earlier, work later and have longer trip times it’s women that are overwhelmed by the bumper to bumper drive.
“When you take the burden of that long drive and place it on the mountain of responsibility that are already being encountered you hit a tipping point,” said Dr. Newport.
He added that tipping point could result in severe anxiety, heart disease and even depression if not checked.
For Aleman, it’s lead to weight gain.
“You’re stuck in a car all day and then you get home and you’re frustrated and maybe you shouldn’t have had that piece of chocolate cake but you just sat in traffic for two hours so you want that piece of chocolate cake or glass of wine or both!” said Aleman.
To avoid the health issues, Newport says to ask for help.
“When responsibilities become unreasonable then your options are basically to delegate those things,” he said.
Pass out the responsibilities to your kids, spouse and family members.