Every year 45,000 people die on Europe’s roads. In Britain,
3,000-4,000 die each year, with around 45,000 seriously injured.
It is a high cost to pay for the freedoms and economic benefits
which are associated with car use and ownership.
As many of the tasks for which we travel can be done
remotely using ICT, telecommuting is also a health and safety
issue. Perhaps every car should be fitted with a
recorded message asking "Is your journey really
necessary?" every time the door is unlocked.
Asthma is on the increase and is associated with air
pollution. The National Asthma Audit estimates that 3.4 million
people in the UK suffer from asthma. 1.5 million of them are
children aged 2-15.
In 1993 GPs recorded almost five times as many new episodes
of asthma in children under five compared to 1979. The number of
adults seeing their doctor about asthma has more than trebled
between 1971 and 1991.
There is some debate as to whether air pollution is a major
cause of asthma, or whether it is due to other aspects of modern
living. Few however doubt that poor air quality triggers asthma
attacks and in urban areas vehicle pollutants are the prime
cause of this poor air quality.
Alongside the increase in traffic in recent years has been a
dramatic rise in the incidence of asthma. The costs of this are
borne not only by the health service, but also by companies. The
number of working days lost due to asthma doubled between 1982
and 1992, and rose by a further 50% over the next 3 years.
Stress too is on the increase, and travelling to work is
related to this in two ways:
- commuting is often stressful in itself, with long or
difficult journeys adding to stress and fatigue
- the rigid divide between the workplace and the home brings
about competing demands and a poor work/rest-of-life balance
Employers could improve their bottom line by accommodating
the reasonable requirements of employees who wish to lead more
balanced lives by telecommuting. Employees with difficult
journeys would thus be more productive, less stressed and ill
less often, while employers would benefit from higher levels of
productivity and fewer problems of high turnover of staff or