"Americans are leaving home earlier and earlier to beat the rush and get to work on time. Census data released today document the ever-lengthening commutes: In 2000, 1 worker in 9 was out the door by 6 a.m., the new data says; by 2006, it was 1 in 8. That might not seem like a big change, but it has put more than 2.7 million additional drivers - for a total of 15 million - on pre-dawn patrol.
This "commuting creep" is changing the lives of tens of millions of Americans. It affects everything from the breakfast-food industry to television viewership trends, from traffic-signal timing to newspaper delivery times, from carpooling patterns to personal fitness routines. Increasingly early commutes also are altering workers' relationships with their families.
"What we're seeing now is this tremendous amount of traffic even before 5 a.m. It seems there's a big lifestyle change here," says Alan Pisarski, author of a wide-ranging study on commuting in the USA."