The Rush Hour Blues

Across the country the experts are studying what millions already know. Traffic stinks and it's getting worse, CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat the worst traffic. In many cities, rush hour now begins well before 6 a.m. According to a just published USA Today study, commuters around the country are leaving home earlier than ever.

In California, some counties report a more than 40 percent increase in traffic congestion, pushing road capacities to the limit and drivers to the edge. "I think if people left any earlier, they wouldn't be getting any sleep," said Sgt. Ernie Sanchez of the California Highway Patrol.

New York's rush hour hasn't gotten a lot earlier, but it has gotten a lot heavier. One traffic reporter says the average New York commuter would get on the road earlier - if there were something in it for him.

"He [the commuter] needs cooperation from his employer, who's gonna say this is a great idea. Come in an hour early, we'll open the office. In fact, we're gonna set up a coffee machine over here for free coffee," said traffic reporter Neil Bush.

But Bush added that there was no chance of that actually happening in New York.

The evidence shows the growth of traffic is related to the growth of suburbs. And as more urban areas sprawl out, more commuters crawl in.

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