Top 10 U.S Cities with the Worst Traffic

Los Angeles, Honolulu, and San Francisco lead the country in worst traffic nightmares

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Traffic Jam

There are few things worse than getting stuck in the slow climb of rush hour traffic. To help drivers better navigate and find the best commute, INRIX, a company devoted to traffic information and apps, released its annual scorecard report of the nation’s most congested metropolises.

The report, which spans all of  2012 and the first three months of 2013, found a 4% increase in traffic congestion in the U.S. in early 2013, following a 22 percent dip in 2012. So far this year, 61 of the 100 American cities analyzed have seen an uptick in traffic congestion compared to just six that saw an increase in 2012. The rankings compile data from more than 100 million GPS-equipped commercial and passenger vehicles, calculating the added amount of time drivers spend in traffic. In the country’s most gridlocked cities, commuters wasted an average of 42 hours sitting in traffic in 2012, the equivalent of one week of vacation.

But it’s not all bad news:  The number of hours wasted is an improvement from last year’s worst traffic cities, where some commuters waited for a total of 62 hours, almost twice the national average of 38 hours.

PHOTOS: Carmageddon

Topping the list is Los Angeles, a city known for heavy delays on Interstate 405, an 8-mile stretch that takes commuters sometimes more than 50 minutes during peak traffic. Honolulu, which Los Angeles replaced at the no. 1 spot, ranked second most congested and remains one of the densest cities in the U.S. with more than 1,584 people per square mile, 24/7 Wall St. reports. San Francisco took third place followed by Austin at no. 4 and New York metro area rounding out the top five.

The U.S. did not fare well compared to Europe, where traffic congestion fell 18 percent in 2012 and continues to drop in 2013. Of 94 European cities analyzed, 81 have seen a dip in traffic congestion in the first few months of 2013.

To see how U.S. cities stack up, check out the score here, or see the full U.S. list below:

1. Los Angeles
2. Honolulu
3. San Franscisco
4. Austin
5. New York
6. Bridgeport, Conn.
7. San Jose
8. Seattle
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Boston

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

17 comments
danahenry023
danahenry023

1,584 people per square mile is not dense. In fact, it could be considered sprawl. Manhattan is about 70,000 people per square mile. Detroit-metro is 5,000

MagicIndy
MagicIndy

If your tired of sitting in traffic/high cost of living/high crime/corrupt cities on the east and west coast then come to Indianapolis :) 

Indy has the LOWEST cost of living of any major US city. One of the best traffic conditions of any large US city. Plus Indianapolis has the nations most affordable housing market.

Not to mention Hoosier Hospitality and one of the most vibrant Downtown's in the US. Downtown Indianapolis is ranked in the top 15 in the country. 

Its no surprise Carmel, Indiana which is a suburb of Indy ranked as the #1 place to live in America by CNN money magazine.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/best-places/2012/snapshots/PL1810342.html

Heres what a forbes.com writer had to say about Indianapolis during his extended visit in 2012. http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2012/02/06/super-bowl-xlvis-real-winner-indianapolis/

RiddleofSteel
RiddleofSteel

There is an easy test to see if you live in an area with the worst traffic. When referring to how long or how far it takes you to get to somewhere, you always only answer in Time, not Distance. Distance is completely meaningless, as that 5 mile distance you drove at 11 AM which took 5 mins, could take you 2 hours at 4 pm. There's a funny SNL skit called The Californians that jokes about how people in Southern California are always talking about the fastest way to get anywhere at certain times of day, to avoid traffic. It's hilarious and so true.

elhamb3166
elhamb3166

The Minneapolis/St. Paul traffic obstructors have an inexhaustible supply of orange barrels which they store over the winter and than drag out as soon as the last snow melts.  For the next six months no matter where you want to go, you can't get to from where you are.

MaryHuffman
MaryHuffman

I remember hearing this list when I was sitting in traffic in Las Vegas; taking an hour to get five miles.

dubprocess
dubprocess

I have driven in all of these cities and LA is BY FAR the worst. I have driven the Baltimore-Washington corridor and its bad but its nothing compared to driving in LA/OC in Southern California.  

DougBNLA
DougBNLA

I have lived in DC, Boston, and LA and have to say I found DC to be the worst of the three, followed by Boston, then LA.  LA traffic is congested, but if you travel strategically, it is rarely completely stopped (at least on the east side freeways).  I still have nightmares of the hours I spent sitting in dead stopped traffic on the Washington Beltway.  

Michael.Hafele
Michael.Hafele

They should drive the Cross Bronx; commuter hell.

BruceThompson
BruceThompson

Rush hour...1 hour 15, to 1 hour 30....Wee hours 14 min...Why I didn't mind overtime and shift work.....2- 2.5 tanks a week  or a tank every 3 weeks.  At 32 gal it paid to quit, so I did.

janjamm
janjamm

The researchers failed to try to do some drive-time in the Baltimore-Washington corridor during congested rush hour, or almost any hour, for that matter. Just take a ride on the Batlimore-Washington Pkwy right onto the Washington Beltway then up 95 to Baltimore through the Fort McHenry tunnel at which this sign is posted daily: "Significant delays."

chrisrgood1
chrisrgood1

How did Houston not make it on to the top 10?  Austin over Houston?  Really?

vbscript2
vbscript2

@RiddleofSteel I think that's pretty common everywhere... I live in a mid-sized town in a relatively rural part of the country and everyone still gives travel distances in time, not miles. Even without major congestion, driving 5 miles through the middle of town is very different in terms of time than driving 5 miles down the interstate in clear traffic.

moofer
moofer

@MaryHuffman Vegas only backs-up for about 5 blocks on the strip. The rest of the city is fine. The list above is congested pretty much city-wide. You shouldn't be driving the strip in Vegas anyhow. It's faster, and better for you to walk.

djg1977.dg
djg1977.dg

I agree Houston sucks, but Austin is much more consistent. Take any day of the week and it will be conjested. On top of that, Austin is one of the most favorable places to live in the US so imagine how many dumb asses are moving here. Bringing their bad driving habits with them. I love this city but its turning into LA. Can't wait to move!

wineguy999
wineguy999

@chrisrgood1 In Huston you have options - you can generally dodge traffic at the last minute if you see a problem coming. In Austin, often times there are no alternatives to the nightmare.

LarryJackson
LarryJackson

@chrisrgood1 Agreed.  I guess the difference is the simplicity of Houston's highway congested infrastructure while Austin's seems less planned and can be confusing.  But the traffic in Houston is much worse than in Austin.

DebbieH
DebbieH

@LarryJackson @chrisrgood1 I've lived in Austin for over 25 years and it has gotten extremely bad.  Houston is a breeze in comparison.  Houston has great freeways everywhere.  Austin has no east-west freeway.  Plus all the new developments and growth have increased traffic and the city roads haven't kept up with it.  It takes me over twice as long to get anywhere.  Too many people have moved here!