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The 10 Worst U.S. Cities for Traffic

U.S. commuters wasted 8 billion hours sitting in traffic last year.

That’s according to INRIX, “a global leader for transportation analytics.” The company’s annual traffic scorecard is intended to serve as a guide for governments and organizations looking to improve urban mobility. And there’s plenty of room for improvement in the U.S., which accounted for five of the ten worst cities for traffic congestion across America and Europe. Only London had worse traffic than the most congested U.S. cities.

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Which U.S. cities were the worst? Led by Los Angeles, where commuters wasted on average 81 hours a year, the ten most congested American cities were as follows:

  1. Los Angeles, CA – 81
  2. Washington, DC – 75
  3. San Francisco, CA – 75
  4. Houston, TX – 74
  5. New York, NY – 73
  6. Seattle, WA – 66
  7. Boston, MA – 64
  8. Chicago, IL – 60
  9. Atlanta, GA – 59
  10. Honolulu, HI – 49

There’s a silver lining in the bad news. As the report points out, “the cities most impacted by worsened traffic conditions are those that experienced the most economic improvement during the past year.” In other words, more jobs means more cars on the road. Also cited as factors contributing to increased traffic were urbanization and lower gas prices.

For travelers, however, the link between employment and traffic is mostly moot. What does matter is the link between the most congested cities and the most popular tourist destinations. The takeaway: Travelers visiting car-choked cities should expect to spend some of their precious vacation time sitting in traffic alongside commuting locals.

Reader Reality Check

How much of your life is wasted sitting in traffic?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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