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You’ll Spend This Much of Your Life Waiting at Red Lights

We weren’t exactly sure if they were tiny people in there or if it was some kind of magical creature staff, like elves or gnomes, who made sure the lights switched from red to yellow to green. It was the only explanation that made sense. There were no chords or electrical connections that we could see, so obviously there had to be somebody doing all the work manually, throwing a switch in a very, very, very tiny office.

If you’re one of the 115 million Americans who heads to work in a vehicle, on a daily basis, odds are there are few things that frustrate you more than getting stuck at a red light. Unfortunately, those precious minutes you spend waiting for a light to change are more than just annoying: they’re a major time-suck, too.

While red lights often feel as though they take an eternity to change, that’s not quite the case. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the perfect amount of time for a light to remain red is between 60 and 90 seconds. That means that, ideally, an urban driver would spend an average of 75 seconds waiting at each red light.

Yeah, it’s time for some math.

If you take into account the estimate that approximately 20 percent of all driving time is spent at red lights, that can certainly add up. According to AAA, the average American spends 17,600 minutes driving each year. That’s 3,520 minutes, or 58.6 hours, spent waiting at red lights every 365 days. If you start driving at the age 15 and end your commuting days when you turn 65, that means you’ll have spent 2,930 hours sitting at stop lights before you even retire. Put another way: that’s 122 days—or about 4 months of your life—tapping your fingers behind the wheel. (And if you’re one of those overachievers who decides to push their retirement to 75, that number shoots up to 142 hours, or 4.7 months sitting at red lights.)

The good news? These days, more and more businesses allow employees to telecommute, so the amount of time you spend waiting for green lights could plummet, if you so desire. And if that sounds appealing to you, have your cake (no commuting) and eat it too (good wages) by scoring one of these 25 Work-from-Home Jobs with High Salaries.

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