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10 best and worst cities for drivers

(MoneyWatch) Between high gas prices, gridlock and the kind of population density that makes it impossible to find a place to park and boosts the chance that you'll suffer an auto accident or a car theft, the Big Apple scores No. 1 as the nation's worst place to drive, according to personal finance site NerdWallet. The best place to drive, on the other hand, allows you to pay less than the national average for a tank of gas, rarely leaves you stuck in traffic and makes parking a breeze.

What are the other best and worst cities in which to operate a car?

Worst cities for drivers

2. Chicago, where residents pay 30 percent more than the national average for gas and waste an average of 51 hours per year sitting in traffic.

3. San Francisco offers more reasonable gas prices, but you're likely to waste 61 hours a year in traffic.

4. Los Angeles, famously likened to an endless freeway, also costs the average commuter 61 hours per year in traffic. Worse, the city is so sprawling and lacking in decent public transportation that it's almost impossible to avoid driving, while the city's gas prices average 7 percent more than the national average.

5. Boston drivers aren't stuck in traffic for quite as long as Angelenos, but the population density per mile ensures that they'll have more trouble parking and insuring their cars.

6. Washington, D.C., residents, seriously, take the Metro. Average annual hours of delay per commuter otherwise? 67 hours. That's almost two work weeks.

7. Oakland, Calif., has all the driving delays of San Francisco and far less of the scenery. On the bright side, it's a little easier to park your car.

8. Honolulu has less gridlock -- except when you try to drive through the heart of town -- but gasoline prices are about 17 percent higher than the national average.

9. Portland, Ore., is scenic but expensive. Gas will cost you about 15 percent more here than in the average U.S. city

10. Philadelphia's population density of more than 11,000 people per square mile is what got the City of Brotherly Love on the list of 10 worst cities to drive a car.

Most drivable cities

Almost all of the 10 most drivable cities made the grade thanks to cheap gas prices, which averaged between 3 percent and 11 percent below the national average. The two exceptions to that rule were the relatively rural California cities of Fresno (No. 10) and Bakersfield (2), where low population density allowed for mostly traffic jam-free commuting.

Filling out the top 10: 1) Raleigh, N.C.; (3) Wichita, Kan.; (4) Kansas City, Mo.; (5) Tulsa, Okla.; (6) Albuquerque, N.M.; (7) Omaha, Neb; (8) El Paso, Tex.; and (9) Colorado Springs, Colo.