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Commuting -- Psychological aspects, Stress (Psychology), Commuters -- Attitudes, Travel -- Decision making, Choice of transportation


It is well recognized in transportation and psychology research that commuting stress has consequences for commuters' travel safety, home environment, and work performance. Little research has addressed questions involving the possible interdependence between work stress, family stress, and commuting stress: Do workers having many demands from work and family life get more stressed out from a stressful commute? Or do stressed workers try to cope with work and non-work stress by choosing more relaxing travel modes?

This proposal integrates the perspectives from transportation, psychology, and health science by focusing on the relations between commuting stress, commuting mode choice, and consequences of such choice for commuters' health. To fill the gaps in the transportation and psychology literature, our proposal addresses two key research questions:1) Under what life and work circumstances are commuting workers more likely to commute via car vs. public transit vs. bicycle vs. on foot? 2) What are the different implications of choosing different commuting modes for commuters’ mental and physical health and work outcomes? In Study 1, we used nationally representative census data and we devised a series of multinomial, logistic regression models to predict the probability of choosing each commute mode to address research question 1. In Study 2, we used cortisol and survey data collected daily over a workweek to address research question 2.

Findings from this research shed light on possible intervention opportunities that help commuting workers cope with various sources of life stress while making more informed decisions on travel mode choice. We contend that commuting workers, their employers, and transportation agencies and planners can all take part in these interventions that can benefit commuting workers’ productivity and well-being, organizational bottom line as well as performance and safety of the transportation system.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-995, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University, and can be found online at:

The Project Brief associated with this research can be found at:



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