CHICAGO — Drivers across the U.S. are spending significantly more time stuck in traffic than during the height of the pandemic and the Chicago area was the top spot, a new study suggests.
INRIX, a data and analytics firm specializing in transportation, published the results of its Global Traffic Scorecard on Tuesday. The full report includes not only INRIX’s ranking of the most congested cities for drivers across the world, but also the most congested traffic corridors in several of the countries studied — and plenty of major U.S. metro areas are near the top (if not at the top) of the lists.
For starters, drivers in the U.S. “lost” an average of 51 hours sitting in traffic in 2022, according to data INRIX obtained from GPS, phone, vehicle and city sources. This amounts to a 15-hour increase over 2021, but still falls short of pre-pandemic delays, INRIX said.
Of course, drivers heading into the country’s most congested metro areas felt the brunt of 2022’s delays. According to INRIX’s findings, commuters making their way to and from the Chicago area’s downtown/business districts lost 155 hours to traffic congestion in 2022, making it the worst city for delays in the U.S. and the second-worst in the world after London, where drivers lost an average of 156 hours.
Paris ranked third, with commuters losing an average of 138 hours, followed by Boston, where drivers faced 134 hours of delays when traveling into the city, and New York, where commuters lost an average of 117 hours.
Limited just to the U.S., INRIX’s Global Traffic Scorecard for the most congested urban areas looks like this:
- Chicago (155 hours lost)
- Boston (134 hours)
- New York (117 hours)
- Philadelphia (114 hours)
- Miami (105 hours)
- Los Angeles (95 hours)*
- San Francisco (97 hours)
- Washington, D.C. (83 hours)
- Houston (74 hours)
- Atlanta (74 hours)
- New Orleans (77 hours)
- Portland, Oregon (72 hours)
- Stamford, Connecticut (73 hours)
- Dallas (56 hours)
- Baltimore (55 hours)
- San Diego (54 hours)
- Denver (54 hours)
- Austin (53 hours)
- Seattle (46 hours)
- Concord, California (54 hours)
- Providence, Rhode Island (42 hours)
- Las Vegas (41 hours)
- San Juan, Puerto Rico (41 hours)
- Nashville (41 hours)
- Sacramento (36 hours)
*Despite drivers in some cities, like Los Angeles, losing fewer hours to congestion than lower-ranked cities, the former were ranked higher because INRIX’s data is “slightly weighted toward an area’s population,” a spokesperson for INRIX confirmed to Nexstar.
In addition to the worst metro areas for traffic congestion, INRIX attempted to determine the single-worst corridors for congestion. The worst — out of all the corridors surveyed in congested cities across the country and even some parts of the globe — was a 30-mile stretch of 1-95 South centered in Stamford, Connecticut, a metro area which also ranked as the 13th most congested urban area in the U.S.
Drivers on this roadway lost an average of 34.5 minutes per day during peak morning commutes toward New York City, “only to see significant congestion on the return trip Northbound,” according to the INRIX report.
Ranking as second-worst is a stretch of I-5 South in Los Angeles, followed by Stamford again (northbound, this time), Boston and New York City.
Delays and congestion may only get worse in 2023, INRIX predicts, unless a recession forces Americans to change their driving behavior.
“Despite geopolitical and economic uncertainties, we continued to see a rise in global vehicle-miles traveled, a return toward traditional morning and evening peak commutes, growth in public transportation use, and continued gains in downtown travel,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, in a press release issued Tuesday. “However, we have yet to fully rebound to pre-pandemic levels, and while we do anticipate a gradual increase over the coming years, we may see a small decline in 2023 should a global recession strongly take hold.”
More information from INRIX’s Global Traffic Scorecard can be found at INRIX’s official website.