Hell on Wheels: Mexico City Tops Global Poll of Worst Places to Drive

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A traffic jam on a street in the Zocalo district of Mexico City.

So you think your commute is bad? Spare a thought for drivers in Mexico City – which has the most tortuous driving in the world, according to a new IBM survey.

The appropriately-named 2011 Commuter Pain Study questioned motorists worldwide on a range of nightmarish areas: from journey times and the price of gas to the estimated level of stress involved in driving. The technology wizards then crunched all the responses and came up with scores and their own definitive list of the most undesirable places to own a car.

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Mexico City – reputedly the third most populous city on earth – claims top spot with a score of 108. That makes it much worse than New York City, which – to some surprise – finishes way back in 15th place, with 28. Los Angeles is the worst city in the U.S. for drivers, but only comes in 12th globally.

China’s rapidly expanding cities give their drivers frequent headaches. The southern industrial city of Shenzhen and the capital Beijing share second and third places in the poll with matching scores of 95. Other traffic hot-spots include third-place Kenyan capital Nairobi (score: 88) and the South African city Johannesburg (score: 83), which is fifth.

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IBM concludes the effects of such hellish journeys are taking their toll on long-suffering car commuters. The study states: “12 of the 15 cities surveyed in both 2010 and 2011 reported year-over-year increases in respondents who said that roadway traffic has increased their stress levels, with several cities posting substantial increases. For example, New York (45% in 2011 vs. 13% in 2010), Los Angeles (44% in 2011 vs. 21% in 2010)…”

The company believes the solution lies in better use of technology – namely sending data from road sensors and GPS devices to drivers so they can avoid congestion. Eventually, the techies predict they will be able to prevent traffic before it has even piled up. Mexico City drivers must sure hope so. (via Gizmodo)

Joe Jackson is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @joejackson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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