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Here's the City That has Topped the List of Places with the Worst Traffic in America

Congested roads indicate people are venturing out, engaging in economic activities, and likely contributing to local businesses.
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Kaique Rocha
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Kaique Rocha

In the bustling landscape of American cities, where the rhythm of life is often measured by the sound of horns and crawling traffic, a new champion has emerged in the race for the worst traffic. Contrary to popular belief, it's not the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles that claims the title, but the iconic concrete jungle of New York City.

Pexels | Photo by
Pexels | Photo by

Sitting in traffic is a universal frustration, a daily ordeal that many consider a significant waste of time, especially during the commute to and from work. The debate over the return to office work often revolves around the dreaded prospect of spending precious hours stuck in traffic jams. Yet, experts argue that traffic congestion is not merely a hindrance; it's a sign of a thriving economy. The logic is that congested roads indicate that people are venturing out, engaging in economic activities, and are likely contributing to local businesses.

In January, TomTom, a geolocation technology specialist, unveiled its annual Traffic Index for 2023, providing a comprehensive ranking of US cities with the most challenging traffic conditions. The evaluation considered factors such as time, cost, and CO2 emissions per mile driven, simulating the experience of completing a six-mile trip in various types of vehicles, including electric, petrol, and diesel cars.

Pexels | Photo by Life Of Pix
Pexels | Photo by Life Of Pix

California, with its sprawling urban centers, emerges as a hotspot for traffic troubles, with two of its cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, securing positions in the top 10. Surprisingly, it's not the City of Angels but the Big Apple that reigns supreme as the undisputed champion of traffic woes. According to the TomTom report, commuters in the heart of Manhattan spent an average of 24 minutes and 50 seconds navigating a six-mile stretch in 2023, marking a 20-second increase from the previous year.

Pexels | Photo by Tim Gouw
Pexels | Photo by Tim Gouw

The report further highlights that New York City is not only the worst for time spent on the road but also the most congested overall, with drivers losing an average of 8 minutes and 2 seconds for a six-mile journey due to traffic. Rush-hour traffic exacerbates the issue, with commuters in the city that never sleeps losing an average of one hour for a typical six-minute trip during peak hours.

The top 10 list of U.S. cities with the worst traffic reads like a roll call of urban hubs grappling with congestion:

1. New York City

2. Washington, D.C.

3. San Francisco

4. Boston

5. Chicago

6. Baltimore

7. Seattle

8. Philadelphia

9. Los Angeles

10. Miami

Surprisingly, Washington, D.C., secures the second spot on TomTom's list, with an average travel time of 21 minutes and 20 seconds for a six-mile drive. Commuters in the U.S. capital endured a staggering loss of 86 hours to rush-hour traffic throughout 2023. Additionally, Washington, D.C. claims the third spot in overall congestion, with an average loss of 5 minutes and 37 seconds for a six-mile journey, according to a separate TomTom ranking.

Beyond the frustration of being stuck in traffic, Washington, D.C. is a city teeming with major organizations, including the American Red Cross, National Geographic Society, and AARP, contributing to both its economic vibrancy and its traffic challenges.