Which cities have the worst traffic?
Commuters sit in traffic in Chicago, Illinois in Septeber 2010.
January 20th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

Which cities have the worst traffic?

Drivers in the Chicago and Washington, D.C., metro areas spend the most time stuck in traffic, according to an annual analysis of the nation’s traffic trends.

Commuters in those two cities spent an average of 70 hours stuck in traffic in 2009, according to the 2010 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.

Southern California – the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana metro area – was third with an average of 63 hours spent stuck in traffic.

Chicago commuters lost the most money to the delays, $1,738, according to the survey, while D.C. commuters wasted the most gas, 57 gallons each.

The top 10 cities for traffic delays in 2009:

1st - (tie) Chicago, Washington, D.C. – 70 hours
3rd - Southern California – 63 hours
4th - Houston – 58 hours
5th - San Francisco-Oakland – 49 hours
6th - (tie) Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston – 48 hours
8th - Atlanta, Seattle – 44 hours
10th - New York- Newark – 42 hours

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Filed under: U.S.
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Captain Cave Man

    That why me fly with cape and club

    January 20, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • George of the Jungle

      Watch out for that tree!

      January 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim in Georgia

      Gee, Now I understand the problemsfacing our country.
      36 replays and half are from ???

      January 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timothy Lutrell

      Knoxville, TN. well over 2 million vehicles a day travel the stretch through Knoxville, the city that combines North East South and West, Interstates I-40 and I-75. If you are on either of those roads, you must pass thru Knoxville to connect the Southeast, topping I-95. Its the highest traveled city in the Country.

      January 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Jetson

      Jane, stop this crazy thing!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • loisgirl

      @Timothy Lutrell I was borned and raised in Knoxville, TN but I'm telling you 2 million cars passing through there a day is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of cars and traffic moving through DC each day which makes me wonder if they are including train commute because that's long also. I-40 has nothing on I-95 the Southeast traffic except for ATL is small compared to this area.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jerry Kloehr

      What about San Antonio,Tx. ? I will never go back, well if you put me in a box maybe.

      March 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelo Bruno

      Pittsburgh traffic is ridiculous. Our highways are only 3 lanes wide, plus we have multiple tunnels and bridges.

      April 25, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      @Angelo: My wife is from Pittsburgh and we currently reside in Northern VA. We actually joke about how light Pittsburgh traffic is compared to that of DC/MD/VA area. There is really no comparison between the two. Enjoy your commute! It could be a lot worse!!

      April 29, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. jeff

    hmm What about the people in Austin texas? Lived in both Houston and Austin...Austin is by far worse....

    January 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Yeah I grew up in Houston, that expansion they did was supposed to clear traffic up a bit. Still made top 5 I see. It worked a bit though.

      January 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • chena

      I have to agree...I have driven a lot in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Seattle, Memphis, Albuquerque...Austin traffic is ridiculous....biggest problems are two-fold...putting un-synchronized lights between synchronized lights, and absolutely the worst urban planning in the history of man....

      January 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • stranger steve

      Italians are from Italy

      January 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      The biggest problem with Austin is that it's nearly impossible to go across the river at rush hour. If you work and live on the same side of the city it isn't too terrible, but I-35 and Mopac haven't been expanded 20-30 years. I-35 is a terrible design with the upper and lower decks and it also has a huge amount of NAFTA related truck traffic. There are still some other big problems – traffic lights on major roads (183, 71, 360), the Y in Oak Hill, and 71 and Riverside.

      January 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyG

      This is why I distrust CNN. Houston is 1,000 square miles and OF COURSE you spend more "hours" in the car when driving somewhere across town. That does not equal "congestion" if you live near the Woodlands and you work at NASA. Guess what, you spend a lot of time in your car even in the best conditions...

      January 21, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I was surprised that Austin wasn't on the list either. I've lived in Austin and Chicago and Austin has the worst traffic I've ever seen. I've never been able to drive through Austin without hitting bumper to bumper traffic. Even if it's far from rush hour.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Billish

      Gee, I guess all the professors, grad students, computers, and detailed technical analyses the team performed to produce this study was all for naught. All they had to do was ask you to get the CORRECT answer. You should form a consulting group, dude.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Tomcat

      Well, I can tell you that Nashville is no gem of an experience either..... or even Orlando for that matter.......

      February 7, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. MJ

    What if some of these people changed their work hours? I work for the post office in tallahassee, fl. When i began work in the mid 90's the starting time was 6:30 a.m. I could leave my house on the other side of town and be there in 15 minutes. Then around 2003 management elimimated the graveyard shift at the processing center. There was no mail available at 6:30 a.m. So they changed the starting time to 8:00 a.m. HELLO TRAFFIC! What was a 15 minute drive now took 45 minutes! It also means starting delivery during lunch "hour" traffic. This then put carriers sitting in traffic unnecessarily and has us trying to get back to the office in 5:00 p.m. traffic. What a WASTE of time and money! And management wonders why the usps is failing.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Timothy Lutrell

      yea, my uncle retired after 40 years there. Those Bozo Managers at the USPS have no clue how to run a transport Business. Thats why it is actually cheaper to use Fed Ex, DHL and UPS these days, they have efficiency down to an art. The USPS is Govt. and will never be efficient.

      January 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. stupid

    it takes one idiot to cause a domino affect, therefore, traffic gets backed up. if you are driving on the "passing lane" and you see 20 cars behind, move the ..... away or drive faster.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      Or just work from home and not even bother with the traffic.

      January 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MLT

    Newark, NY? This is obviously a mistake! Newark, NY has a population of less than 10,000 and is in upstate NY. Was it supposed to be Newark NJ or NYC?

    January 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marco

      It's New York City and Newark, NJ. I knew both these cities were in the top ten, I'm just surprise they are in the last place. I can't believe there are actually worse out there.

      January 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Sheesh! Read it again. It's listed as "New York-Newark" indicating that specific metropolitan area.

      January 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Save The Whales

      Where are you from Hickville, Indiana?

      January 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      I was shocked also to see New York only in 10th place. I live about 30-40 minutes north of Manhattan and even our local traffic in the suburbs is out of control. My commute to work goes with the city bound traffic and there are days when my 15 minute drive turns into 45 minutes plus. If this list IS accurate, then I never want to see what these other cities are like with traffic!

      January 21, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • NOVA Driver

      I live in Northern VA and have also driven in the NYC area quite a bit. The DC area is much worse than NY-Newark for the simple fact that there are not enough major roads in the DC area for the volume of traffic. NYC is bad, but at least you have many more multi-lane roads going in many directions in NYC-Newark. That is not the case in the DC metro area. In NOVA there are only four roads that go E-W for rush hour traffic, and two of those are two lanes with lots of stop lights.

      January 21, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    Sutler, not everyone can work at home.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |

    "The top 10 cities for traffic delays in 200":

    "1st – (tie) Chicago, Washington, D.C. – 70 hours
    3rd – Southern California – 63 hours
    4th – Houston – 58 hours
    5th – San Francisco-Oakland – 49 hours
    6th – (tie) Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston – 48 hours
    8th – Atlanta, Seattle – 44 hours
    10th – New York- Newark – 42 hours"

    Top 10 eh.... I only count 7.

    It should state "TOP 7 American Cities"

    January 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • AlaskaDale

      Hey Kid, 1st place included 2 cities (Chicago & Washington, DC). So did 6th place (Dallas & Boston), and 8th place (Atlanta & Seattle). Some would argue that New York City and Newark, NJ should be considered two cities, but I guess they are considered part of the same metro area.

      Anyway, when you include the 3 ties, you get 10 cities.

      January 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • blue

      Good call on the emphasis on *American* cities. Some places make the SoCal interstates/parking lots look like goddam racetracks by comparison.

      January 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • U.R. SoSimple

      3rd grad math = FAIL

      January 21, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • terryharris13@verizon.net

      Are you really that stupid???

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • no child left behind

      ah, now i see why the canadian school system is so much better than the u.s.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      Count again, Canadian Kid. There are 10 areas listed.

      January 22, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Your Dad

      God your stupid! Look again and count the actual cities labeled that will fix your issue with counting.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. no L.A?

    uh, where is 2, 7, and 9. Los Angeles has to be one of those.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aus10

      Last time I checked L.A. is in Southern California.

      January 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      You just looked at the list and didn't read the article, right? L.A. is part of the "Southern California" metropolitan area. And you couldn't even manage to read the entire list correctly, either – there were three ties, hence only seven list items to cover 10 metro areas. Is 10 your IQ?

      January 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jen

      Really? L.A. is in Southern Cali and there are 10 cities listed. Read the list again!

      January 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chopswell

    I'm surprised Tampa/St. Pete isn't on this list.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mathew

      I lived there for a year and TPA/STP had the least traffic of any Major city I have been to, you must not travel a lot and have lived there your entire life

      January 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I just moved to the Tampa/St. Pete area about 2 months ago from a small midwest town of about 30,000 and that small-town had worse traffic than this area. I drive 4-5 hours a day and have never yet been "stuck" in traffic down here.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jerome

    Traffic here in Chicago is absolutely ridiculous and nothing is done about it. Most of our expressways have been overhauled but there's little extra capacity. Public transportation is grossly underfunded, so service is being reduced and expansion projects aren't getting off the ground. Traffic laws within city limits are pretty much null and void... nobody follows them, and the police rarely enforce them.

    "Rush Hour" in Chicago is basically 6AM-10AM, then 3AM-8PM, and traffic is still pretty ridiculous between those times.

    The amount of truck traffic on the highways is obscene. Some trucks don't want to pay the tolls on I294 to get between I80 and I90, so they drive right through downtown and add to the mess.

    I've driven DC in rush hour and it's just as bad. Commuters in other cities are lucky.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZCups

      I am surprised Atlanta isn't higher on the list as it is brutal. Add to that a limited (and decreasing due to funding) public transportation system and the busiest airport in the country and the situation only gets worse. On a good day a 20 mile trip in from the 'Burbs would take me over an hour, on a bad day, well, you know the story – 2.5 hours.

      I know metro Atl isn't as big as Chicago but Atl has one of the smallest non-metro populations meaning that everybody else is driving in for work from the 'Burbs. I don't miss it at all!

      January 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Piljay

      Atlanta is nothing compared to Chicago. I was so surprised by the extremely overwhelming number of trucks on the expressway in Chicago. Atlanta may have a lot of traffic for a little amount, they however have more lanes that lets you weave in and out. Chicago is just a pain in the rear to get through. Took me two hours to just drive through the city the last time i was there. No accidents at all. I was also surprised by all the crappy streets off the expressway. I live in NY and deal with pot holes left and right. But why does Chicago start to repair a road and then just leave it in ruins without any signs or cones or anything?

      January 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    Here in Baltimore the 'powers that be' deliberatly time the lights to be red. reason: higher gas comsumption means higher gas numbers, and they get a cut of the taxes. Thats right, it IS all about the money.

    January 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. zero


    January 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. outawork

    Apparently these folks haven't been to Nashville

    January 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThatsANoSir

      Nashville...? No way! I have family there and would trade you for ATL traffic any day of the week.

      January 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. blue

    The Washington beltway is the world's largest circular parking lot.

    January 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • anna0207


      January 21, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • nodat1

      it's all about timing: my commute from laurel to Bethesda 30 min in the morning, 40 min in the afternoon no traffic both directions. ya (work hours 6 to 2).

      January 21, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Todd

    DC! We're number 1! Eh, who cares? I walk to work.

    Next time, take the train

    January 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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