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. patrick

    The reason for the congestion in So. Cal. is entirely the fault of the local police, the CHP and the courts. there are cops that go their entire careers without EVER writing even one ticket for impeding traffic. those that do, find pusilanimous judges that levy fines that are tantamount to a parking ticket. service companies are going out of business due to the inability to cover enough territory as their people spend most of their time in traffic. the state is broke, and just getting serious on this issue alone would net billions.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mo

    Surprised Portland OR isn't on here... I guess they have the worst drivers and not the worst traffic?

    January 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Peter

    The Twin Cities(Mpls-St.Paul,MN) has obsolete highways-with no desire to fix them

    January 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KatieR

    I live north of DC (abt 45 mins) and I'm lucky enough to commute the opposite way of everyone else. I leave and my way is clear. Going the other way though....it's a parking lot. I once had to commute down to DC for a meeting, took me 2 1/2 hours....ridiculous.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jimbo

    Chicago could easily move way down the list or even off the list if it would only do something with its antique traffic signals of which none of them are coordinated with one another to keep traffic moving. This would increase capacity on surface roads by 20% meaning some of the people on the interstates could stay off them and just drive the surface roads to their destination.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt


    7 – 9 am & 4 – 7 pm (Also between 11 am – 2 pm during lunch)

    There is traffic in every city !

    January 21, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jim

    Recently retired. Best part of that was being freed from the hour and a half round trip commute.

    January 21, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. RR

    The list posted here is not the complete top 10 ranking. It's only the ranking for "Very large urban areas" with over 3 million people in population. Although one would assume that the nation's most congested cities are very large urban areas, this is not necessarily the case. There are two "large urban areas" (1-3 million) that actually rank in the top 10.

    The complete top 10 ranking (which is actually 11 cities due to a tie for 10th place) for "yearly delay per auto commuter" is as follows:
    1. Chicago / Washington DC (tie, 70 hours)
    3. Los Angeles (63)
    4. Houston (58)
    5. Baltimore (50)
    6. San Francisco-Oakland (49)
    7. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Boston (tie, 48)
    9. Denver (47)
    10. Atlanta, Seattle (tie, 44)

    This is the real top 10 list if all cities are accounted for, measured in yearly delay per auto commuter, which is how this CNN post ranked its top 10.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • jared.

      baltimore is basically the dc metro area.

      May 10, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ash

    I was sure NY would top the list! I live in NY and I thought traffic was bad here... and it's only 10th place

    January 21, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. Randy

    I do 54 miles one way in Atlanta daily...takes 1 to 1.5 hours. That's the price I pay to live in the country and work in the city.

    January 21, 2011 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. jeffrey burke

    One of the great things about the high unemployment rate in Detroit is less traffic!

    January 21, 2011 at 5:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      I live in miami.. live in kendall and commute to south beach its hell

      construction all over highways, they are also putting in an underground tunnel by the port of miami so that the huge trucks dont take over the streets. but this adds to more traffic. plus they added 2345362346 more tolls on way to work so i take the streets US-1 but then they added cameras on every block so they give 180 tickets for being stuck in intersections during rush hour.. these flashing strobes take pics of your license plate if u do it and other infractions. not only are the flashes distracting at night but can be dangerous

      traffic is a nightmare. how its not top 10 is beyond me.. then god forbid it drizzles the traffic goes to 2 mph (no accidents mind you) plus we have all these horrible drivers from latin american countries who drive like lunatics like they do in their 3rd world countries

      i hate miami traffic

      January 21, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. AG

    definitely has to be los angeles. I seen the 405 traffic. HORRIBLE. How does a city that produces so many films get them done with all that traffic?

    January 21, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. Erik

    Photo caption has a typo: Septeber –> September

    January 21, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. parvo

    DC would probably have fewer traffic problems if the Metro system didn't suck so bad.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. bighead

    This list is bull. i live in boston and work in boston and although it is bad there is no way it is worse than new york. everytime ive gone through new york no matter what time ive been stuck in traffic.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
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