Traffic sucks, and according to a new report released August 26 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and INRIX, it’s getting worse.
In fact, the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard reports that we’ve hit a point that is surely among the least welcome signs that the recession of 2008 is over: Traffic has not just returned to pre-recession levels. It’s worse.
On average, US car commuters sit in traffic an extra 42 hours a year — but on the worst routes and in the worst cities, that number is more than 80 hours.
Check out how bad it is and what the researchers involved think might help.
A few of the largest urban areas in the country have it the worst, with Washington D.C., LA, and San Francisco topping the list.
Traffic gets worse every day from Monday to Friday, then is (unsurprisingly) least bad on weekends. Evening rush hour is worse than the mornings, though delays persist throughout the day.
There are more delays on streets than freeways, especially in smaller areas -- but there are many more miles of streets, which influences this metric.
When researchers analysed how many of people's trips had really bad (severe or extreme) traffic, they found that those trips were responsible for the vast majority of the extra time spent burning gas while at a standstill. The left chart shows how many of people's trips happen during different types of traffic, the right chart shows how which of those trips are responsible for those extra hours sitting in the car.
What this means is that commuters need to plan for trips that take much longer than they would without traffic, if they plan on being on time. The numbers on the left in the chart below that illustrate this represent minutes.
Here's another chart that shows how calculating for potential bad days means people have to plan more time for their commutes every day. If your non-traffic commute would be 20 minutes, you should give yourself an hour if you want to be on time 95% of the time -- or make sure you are on time for a particularly important event.
Of course, time is money, and this extra time sitting in traffic cost the economy $160 billion in 2014 -- the most ever, up from $154 billion in 2012 and $156 billion in 2013. That's due to spending an extra 6.9 billion hours on the road (the researchers note that this would be enough time to drive to Pluto and back).
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