Why commuting is bad for your health as well as your wealth

3 May 2013

British city slickers are putting their lives at risk 32 times a week as they travel to and from the office, research from insurer LV= has revealed.

LV= also found that more than 1.7 million of us have been injured during our commute, to the extent we’ve needed time off work (anything from a day to more than six months).

I can quite believe it.

I’m a hardened London commuter who has spent/wasted countless hours of my life on the Northern Line and a whole host of expensive rail services, but even I am shocked by the risks taken by some of my fellow commuters. And that’s despite me nearly causing an accident myself while on the way to work.

I’m one of those girls with a fairly sizeable handbag, stuffed full of magazines, make-up and, of course, my iPhone. One day, while standing at the edge of the tube platform waiting for the train to come in, I went to grab my magazine. But I hadn’t realised that my iPhone was snuggled in between the pages and as I pulled Vanity Fair out of my bag, the phone went flying and eventually landed on the tracks.

Lots of people around me laughed (there’s a first for everything, they’re usually a sour-faced lot) and, embarrassed, I went to find the station staff and ask what to do. I would have been happy for them to retrieve it when the morning rush had passed to avoid causing any delays and collect it on my return journey that evening. But no. One member of staff said: “Trouble is love, some idiot will jump on the tracks to get it – everyone wants a free iPhone. We see it happen a lot – even in rush hour.”

So commuters are actually prepared to jump onto live rail tracks on the way to work.

Then there are the workers you see who leg it along tube and train platforms, desperately trying to board just as the doors start to close. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people get their coats, bags and even heads caught in the sliding doors.

I’ve seen people “stack it” down the escalators, too, tripping over as they dash to get their train. Oh, and I’ve had hot coffee spilt over my head because a yuppy didn’t bother to get a lid.

Getting to work on time is a bit like running the gauntlet these days. And it’s the same up and down the country. In fact, workers in Manchester are likely to take the most risk, according to LV=, followed by Londoners and then commuters in Liverpool.

LV= issued the research to help highlight the fact that 83% of working adults have no income protection. Life insurance, criticial illness and other insurance policies are, of course, highly recommended for many people – especially those with dependents – but I’d also like to see people who commute taking a little more care when they are journeying to and from work.

And if anyone spots an iPhone on a live rail – don’t try to pick it up.

Have you ever been injured on the way to work? Have you seen someone else come a cropper on the commute? Tell us your tales of woe…