Study: Los Angeles tops list of most congested U.S. cities

Traffic in Los Angeles has earned a rather infamous reputation, so it may come as no surprise that a recent analysis has ranked the City of Angels as the most congested city in the United States – and the world.

INRIX Inc., a transportation analytics and connected car services company, released its annual Global Traffic Scorecard on congestion in 1,360 cities across 38 countries. This analysis determined that the United States suffers the worst traffic congestion among all developed countries, with the average driver spending 41 hours a year stuck in traffic.

The study also determined that the United States loses almost $305 billion a year due to traffic congestion, at an average cost of $1,445 per driver. These costs include direct losses, such as fuel wasted while idling in traffic, and indirect costs, such as higher business and freight fees passed on to the consumer as a result of congestion.

"Congestion costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars, and threatens future economic growth and lowers our quality of life," said INRIX chief economist Graham Cookson. "If we're to avoid traffic congestion becoming a further drain on our economy, we must invest in intelligent transportation systems to tackle our mobility challenges."

Congestion and lost time

The United States has three of the top five most congested cities in the world, including Los Angeles, New York City (which tied with Moscow for second), and San Francisco. Atlanta was rated the 10th most congested city in the world.

In Los Angeles, the typical driver spent 102 hours in traffic at an average annual cost of $2,828 per driver, or $19.2 billion for the city as a whole. The average commuter spent 12 percent of their drive in congested conditions.

INRIX noted how congestion was costlier or took up a larger share of the average commute in other areas. German drivers lost 57 percent more money than the average U.S. driver, with an average annual congestion cost of $1,770. Russia accounted for eight of the top 10 cities with the largest share of travel spent in congestion, with Magnitogorsk drivers typically spending 44 percent of their drive in traffic.

Asian and South American drivers were more likely to lose time during peak congestion. In Thailand, the typical driver lost 56 hours during this time. This was followed by Indonesia (51 hours), Columbia (49 hours), and Venezuela (42 hours).

Connecticut cities

Nine Connecticut cities were included in the INRIX report, with Stamford ranked as the most congested location in the state. The city was named the 81st most congested location in the world—up from 87th in the 2016 study—and 15th most congested in the U.S. The typical Stamford commuter spent 41 hours in traffic each year, with 13 percent of the average drive spent in congestion.

Other cities in Connecticut were ranked as considerably less congested than the previous year. Hartford fell from 412th in global rankings to 485th, with a typical driver losing 19 hours a year to congestion and spending 6 percent of their commute in traffic.

New Haven and Bridgeport drivers spent an average of 22 hours a year in traffic, or 9 percent of the typical drive. New Haven's ranking improved from 349th most congested city to 392nd, while Bridgeport went from 310th to 401st.

New London was named the 1,076th most congested city in the world, down from 877th in the 2016 rankings. The average commuter in the city spent eight hours a year in traffic, with 4 percent of their typical drive taking place in congested conditions.

Other findings

In downtown metro areas, Boston and San Francisco had the worst traffic during peak commuting hours. In each city, 23 percent of the average drive to or from work was spent in traffic. Drivers in Everett, Wash., spent the most time stuck on highways leading into or out of a city, with an average congestion rate of 28 percent.

Congested traffic in downtown areas was at its slowest point in El Paso, Texas. The typical free flowing speed fell from 43 miles per hour to 5 miles per hour during congestion.

Non-congested traffic tended to move more quickly in Southern locales. The five cities with the fastest free flowing conditions were all in the South, with drivers in Fort Myers, Fla. traveling an average of 68 miles per hour when congestion was not an issue.

INRIX found that New York City drivers spent an average of 14 percent of their weekday travel time stuck in gridlocked conditions. Overall daytime congestion was worst in Santa Cruz, Calif., with drivers spending 12 percent of their time on arterial roads and highways in traffic.

On the weekends, congestion was worst in Dana Point, Calif. Here, drivers spent 21 percent of their average drive in traffic. Weekend congestion traffic speeds were worst in Las Vegas, falling to 5 miles per hour.

For the third year in a row, INRIX named the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York City, a section of I-95, as the most congested travel corridor in the United States. Although this stretch of road only extends 4.7 miles, the average eastbound driver wasted 118 hours a year when commuting on it.

New York had an another three corridors on the list of 10 most congested commutes in the nation, while Chicago had three overall. These included the second and third most congested corridors in the U.S.: the I-90/I-94 southbound drive, with an average loss of 98 hours per year to gridlock, and the I-290 eastbound drive, with an average loss of 89 hours.

INRIX used data from approximately 300 million connected cars and devices for its 2017 Global Traffic Scorecard. This data was analyzed to identify traffic patterns in different cities, as well as patterns related to time of day, day of the week, and location.


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