Inrix: America back on the road to gridlock

Drivers experienced an average 10% increase in travel times in 2010

News Inrix March 08, 2011
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Gridlock and longer commute times are returning to America’s roads, according to the 4th Annual Inrix National Traffic Scorecard. Traffic congestion increased nationwide for 11 consecutive months in 2010 with drivers experiencing increased traffic congestion nearly every hour of the day.

“America is back on the road to gridlock,” said Bryan Mistele, Inrix president and CEO. “Population growth combined with increases in interstate commerce spurred by economic recovery are fueling these increases. With only 150,000 new jobs created in our nation’s urban centers last year, we can expect even worse gridlock when the 6 million jobs lost in the recession return to the nation’s cities.”

Despite only modest employment gains in 2010, drivers are experiencing an average 10% increase in travel times. If unemployment drops to 7% by 2012 as economists’ predict, 9 million more daily work trips will jam our nation’s road network. In fact, 70 of the top 100 most populated cities in the U.S. are experiencing increases in traffic congestion. Nine cities already have surpassed their 2007 peak. By analyzing traffic on major highways in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas in 2010, the top 10 most congested U.S. cities are:

  1. Los Angeles: On Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 71% longer than normal;
  2. New York: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 47% longer than normal;
  3. Chicago: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 41% longer;
  4. Washington, D.C.: On Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 51% longer than normal;
  5. Dallas: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 36% longer than normal;
  6. San Francisco: On Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 63% longer than normal;
  7. Houston: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 33% longer than normal;
  8. Boston: On Friday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 33% longer than normal;
  9. Philadelphia: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 29% longer than normal; and
  10. Seattle: On Thursday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 49% longer than normal.

These cities account for more than half of our nation’s traffic congestion with nine of the top 10 cities experiencing modest increases in traffic congestion in 2010 (Chicago being the lone exception). Of these cities, New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia experienced increases of almost 20%, attributable to rebounds in the technology, healthcare, manufacturing, freight movement and services sectors that are the backbone of these local economies. In comparing U.S. and European cities, Los Angeles’ freeway system is more congested than that of any other city in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Nationwide, Americans traveling the nation’s worst traffic corridors experience up to 80 hours of delay annually on the afternoon commute alone. Over 500 miles of roads were congested 25 hours a week or more. Nearly 200 of those miles were congested 40 hours a week or more—higher than any previous year. Of the 341 corridors at least 3 miles long that experience heavy traffic congestion every day, the Top 10 Worst U.S. Traffic Corridors are listed in the Inrix report, which is available as a free download at http://inrix.com/scorecard/.

If you happen to drive any of the Top 10 Worst Corridors during rush hour, you spend more than four work weeks per year stuck in traffic and could ride a bike faster than you could drive your car to work. Given these are averages, it is important to note that travel times are often much worse many days of the year.

The Annual Inrix Traffic Scorecard is based on analysis of raw data from Inrix’s own historical traffic database generated by the company’s Smart Driver Network of more than 4 million vehicles, including taxis, airport shuttles, service delivery vans, long-haul trucks as well as consumer vehicles and mobile devices, traveling the roads every day. Each data report from these GPS-equipped vehicles and devices includes the speed, location and heading of a particular vehicle at a reported date and time. In creating the Scorecard, Inrix analyzes information for every road segment during every hour of the day to generate the most comprehensive and timely congestion analysis to date, covering the largest 100 metropolitan areas and the nation’s entire highway, interstate and limited-access road network.

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