Hey Radio: Drivers Spend Average 41 Hours Behind The Wheel.

February 9, 2018    

Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Atlanta are the places to be if you’re a radio station looking for an attentive audience behind the wheel. Those four cities are the most congested in the U.S., according to a new study from transportation analytics and connected car services company INRIX.

L.A. not only topped the U.S. list, but for the sixth straight year, is also the most gridlocked city in the world, with drivers spending 102 hours in congestion in 2017 during peak time periods. On a global basis, next in line were Moscow and New York (tied at 91 hours), Sao Paulo (86 hours) and San Francisco (79 hours).

The U.S. accounted for 10 of the top 25 cities worldwide with the worst traffic congestion, and ranked as the most congested developed country in the world, with drivers spending an average of 41 hours a year in traffic during peak hours.

INRIX’s annual “Global Traffic Scorecard” found that New York’s Cross Bronx Expressway is ranked as the U.S.’s worst corridor for the third year in a row, with the average driver plodding along for 118 hours per year, an increase of 37% over last year. The most improved U.S. city was South Bend, IN, with a 25% reduction in peak hours spent in congestion since 2016. Several Texas cities also saw significant improvement, including El Paso (-13%), Austin (-9%) and Dallas (-9%).

The scorecard, based on an analysis of 1,360 cities in 38 countries, dug deeper into traffic patterns and found that interestingly, both New York and San Francisco, the second- and third-ranked cities in North America (91 and 79 hours spent in congestion, respectively), have a similar average congestion rate as Los Angeles (13%), but show different commute patterns. San Francisco, for example, had the highest congestion rate (tied with Boston) on arterial and city streets during the peak commute hours, while New York holds the top spot during the daytime.

More tidbits: Commuters in Boston and San Francisco had the highest U.S. congestion rates on arterial and city streets during the peak commute hours (23%); the worst downtown slowdowns were in El Paso, TX where speeds dropped from 43 mph at free flow speeds to 5 mph when congested; and commuters around Everett, WA spent more time stuck in traffic than anyone else, with a congestion rate of 28% on highways in and out of the city. And the top five fastest non-congested speeds during the peak period on highways were all in the South, with Florida having the highest uncongested average speeds in 2017. Drivers in Fort Myers moved the fastest at an average of 68 mph.

The top 10 most congested cities in the U.S., according to the Global Traffic Scorecard, are: Los Angeles at No. 1, New York City at No. 2, San Francisco at No. 3, Atlanta at No. 4, Miami at No. 5, Washington, DC at No. 6, Boston at No. 7, Chicago at No. 8, Seattle at No. 9 and Dallas at No. 10.

INREX traffic data is collected from 300 million connected cars and devices, and can be analyzed by different times of the day and across different parts of the road network, such as traffic in downtown areas compared to vehicles coming in and out of a city, inside and outside of peak hours, and over weekends.

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