10 Most Congested Cities

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/15/2007
Feeling congested? Americans may love driving their cars, but most folks don't like just sitting in them; especially when they're stuck in traffic. As minutes turn to hours and then add up to days, the time we are stuck crawling at a snail's pace, making progress only by the foot seems to have increased exponentially. When it comes to the Rat Race, we are running in it at ever-slower speeds with an increasing amount of company. According to data collected by the Texas Transportation Institute for it's 2003 Urban Mobility study, here are the top ten worst cities for traffic congestion:

The 10 Most Congested Cities

1. Los Angeles, CA
2. San Francisco, CA
3. Denver, CO
4. Miami, FL
5. Phoenix, AZ
6. Chicago, IL
7. San Jose, CA
8. Washington, DC
9. Portland, OR
10. Boston, MA

Burning up the clock

The costs of traffic are many, but the most obvious and egregious is the cost in time. The average commuter spends over an entire work-week per year stuck in traffic. Because there weren't records and statistics to fall back upon, urban and highway planners, faced with growing sprawl, opted for what seemed sensible: they built more highways where there were none, and put more lanes in where there were. What they found out was that you can't build highways fast enough to satisfy the increasing demand. Increasing the amount of pavement just causes an even greater increase in the amount of vehicles using an area. As a result, the vehicle population has grown seven times faster than the human population since 1960.

Congestion: Now draining wallets on a highway near you

According to transact.org, the website of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, owning a car in Portland, Oregon is the biggest household expense other than shelter. And while Portland is a victim of growth, it doesn't compare to Atlanta, a city synonymous with unbridled sprawl and longer commutes, where transportation is now the largest single household expenditure.

The highest cost of traffic

If the time and money loss isn't bad enough, there are health and social costs. Where people drive more there is a greater risk of road fatalities. The air quality worsens. Nor do you need a sociologist to tell you that increased traffic means increased stress. Even cities known as "polite" cite an increase in rudeness on the road, a pervasive vehicular selfishness that results in everything from road rage to increased accidents. Family dinners are missed, hours of on-the-clock time at work are lost, and the inevitability of the twice-a-day grind wears people down.

In a jam? What's a car owner to do?

We've already seen that we'll never be able to build highways and additional lanes fast enough to keep up the demand. If you have the mobility and the luxury, you can look for the cities where traffic and sprawl are kept to a minimum. If you're stuck, well, you might as well just sit back, relax, and listen to the radio or a good book on CD.

Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.

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