Going Nowhere: 10 Worst U.S. Cities for Traffic

If you live in one of these cities, you're probably sitting in your car right now.

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Maybe Hawaii’s notorious ‘island time’ has more to do with traffic than anything else. Despite a new report indicating a 30 percent drop in traffic congestion across the U.S., drivers in Honolulu still waste 58 hours each year sitting in their cars.

The study was produced by INRIX, a company devoted to traffic information and apps, which analyzed the data from some 100 million GPS-equipped commercial and passenger vehicles, traveling on an estimated 300,000 miles of roads. According to the study, drivers in America’s 10 worst traffic cities will sit idle more than 40 hours a year, on average — with Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York leading the way for slow going.

Overall, though, the worldwide study that included America’s 100 most populated cities found that rising fuel prices and a declining job market actually made for easier driving in 2011, after two straight years of modest traffic delay increases. That’s not necessarily good news, however. “The declines in traffic congestion across the U.S. and Europe are indicative of stalled economies worldwide,” Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.  “Americans are driving less and spending less fueled by gas prices and a largely jobless recovery.”

(PHOTOS: Carmageddon)

Cities showing the biggest drops in traffic congestion were cities where gas prices exceeded the national average, including L.A., Honolulu and San Francisco. However, cities with robust employment growth increased traffic congestion (Tampa, Houston and Austin, for example). And cities with relatively decent employment numbers and inexpensive fuel, such as Atlanta and Miami, also saw a rise in traffic.

An estimated 890,000 of the 2.6 million jobs created last year were in the nation’s largest urban centers, according to the report, which means that a lack of employment combined with high fuel prices clearly drives a decline in traffic.

The 10 Worst U.S. Traffic Cities, according to INRIX, are:

1. Honolulu:  Drivers waste 58 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Tuesday from 5:15 – 5:30 p.m.

2. Los Angeles:  Drivers waste 56 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Thursday from 5:45 – 6 p.m.

3. San Francisco:  Drivers waste 48 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Thursday from 5:45 – 6 p.m.

4. New York: Drivers waste 57 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Friday from 5:30 – 5:45 p.m.

5. Bridgeport, Conn.:  Drivers waste 42 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Friday from 5:30 – 5:45 p.m.

6. Washington, D.C.:  Drivers waste 45 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Thursday from 5:45 – 6 p.m.

7. Seattle:  Drivers waste 33 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Thursday from 5:30 – 5:45 p.m.

8. Austin:  Drivers waste 30 hours in traffic; Worst hour is Thursday from 5:30 – 5:45 p.m.

9. Boston: Drivers waste 35 hours in traffic; Worst hour us Thursday from 5:30 – 5:45 p.m.

10. Chicago: Drivers waste 36 hours in traffic; Worst hour us Thursday from 5:30 – 5:45 p.m.

For those driving a “corridor” of at least three miles in length, the eight worst sections of road are all areas in either Los Angeles or New York.

The report suggests the best day and evening for traffic is actually Monday, while Friday morning has the best early commute. The worst day and evening, though, is Friday.

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