While traffic laws such as road lanes, speed limits, stoplights, and street signs attempt to organize traffic and keep it flowing smoothly, congestion is sometimes inevitable.
In some places, traffic can be fairly consistent, while in other places, traffic can suddenly have extreme volumes during certain hours of the day, such as a rush hour. Rush hour occurs on business days and is typically once in the morning and once in the evening during times where most people are heading to or leaving from their jobs. This increase in traffic volume often can cause there to be too many cars on the road at once and back up the flow of traffic.
Several occurrences lead to traffic congestion or “traffic jams.” These include construction, debris on the road, and collisions. Traffic congestion caused by collisions is due to either blockage of the roadway or rubbernecking (slowing down or stopping to turn one’s head to look at something of interest).
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, 85.3% of Americans commute in private vehicles and 76.4% drove alone. While driving is often the quickest means to commute to work, their biggest trade-off is traffic. Public transportation, such as buses, trains, metros, and more, helps to alleviate traffic by providing another way to commute using fewer physical vehicles on the road. The use of public transportation is also believed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
INRIX publishes an annual Global Traffic Scorecard that ranks the cities with the worst traffic, including their average annual time spent in traffic and the average cost of congestion per motorist.
According to the INRIX scorecard, the ten US cities with the worst traffic are:
- Boston, MA (164 hours)
- Washington, DC (155 hours)
- Chicago, IL (138 hours)
- New York City, NY (133 hours)
- Los Angeles, CA (128 hours)
- Seattle, WA (138 hours)
- Pittsburgh, PA (127 hours)
- San Francisco, CA (116 hours)
- Philadelphia, PA (112 hours
- Portland, OR (116 hours)
Boston is ranked as the worst city for traffic in the United States. On average, 164 hours are spent in traffic annually, costing drivers $2,291. Interstate 93 from Massachusetts Ave to Braintree is considered to be the seventh-worst stretch of road for traffic, costing commuters an average of 53 hours of traffic in 2018.
The worst stretch of road in the US for traffic Is the Cross Bronx Expressway from Bruckner Expressway to Trans Manhattan Expressway, costing commuters 114 hours.