By Mother Nature Network on Feb 8, 2013

Study: Traffic Congestion is a Waste; D.C. is the Worst

rush hour, fuel waste, fuel efficiency, gridlock

Photo: Flickr/CountyLemonade

Written by Melissa Hincha-Ownby, Mother Nature Network

Washington, D.C. residents that drive to work have a valid reason to complain about the commute; the District of Columbia was recently named the most congested city in the nation by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). The Institute’s 2012 Urban Mobility Report examines congestion and traffic issues in 489 urban areas.

Top 10 most congested cities:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Los Angeles
  3. San Francisco
  4. New York
  5. Boston
  6. Houston
  7. Atlanta
  8. Chicago
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Seattle

Dealing with rush hour traffic is a frustrating, albeit necessary, waste of time; time that could be better spent working, spending time with family or running errands. The TTI 2012 Urban Mobility Report reveals that U.S. commuters wasted 5.5 billion hours of extra time due to traffic congestion in 2011. This is equal to the amount of time that businesses and individual taxpayers spend filing their taxes.

In addition to being a waste of time, congestion is also costly:

  • Commuters wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel due to congestion
  • $121 billion worth of congestion-related delay and fuel costs are realized annually
  • Per commuter average cost of $818 per year, up from $342 in 1982 (adjusted for inflation)

Traffic congestion also increases air pollution. In 2011, traffic congestion was responsible for an additional 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, which is about 380 pounds of CO2 emissions per auto commuter. This figure is limited to the 489 urban areas used in the study and is only the congestion-related emissions, this does not include the tailpipe emissions from automotive use on non-congested roadways.

Public transportation can alleviate urban congestion and reduce excessive carbon dioxide emissions but it isn’t the only congestion relief approach recommended by the TTI. Other measures that municipalities should research include adding capacity in critical travel corridors, change usage patterns by encouraging flex hours or telecommuting opportunities and providing a variety of travel options to commuters.

Learn more about current traffic congestion concerns as well as historical trends by downloading the report: 2012 Urban Mobility Report (PDF).

More from Mother Nature Network:
When gas prices go up, Americans buy green
Choking Beijing takes cars off the street
Hybrid cars are near a tipping point
3 challenges of working from the road

Related articles

The best picks from all our categories, ready for you to read instantly.

Leave a Reply