Worst traffic cities in the U.S., ranked
Which city has the worst traffic in America?
You've been there — sitting in a line of cars, brake lights as far as you can see. Nobody's moving. At least you have a podcast to listen to.
TomTom, an international navigation company, gathered traffic data 24 hours a day, every day, from cities across the country. They compared all of those data points with travel times during free-flow traffic conditions. The result: A list of some very, very congested cities.
Where does your city rank in terms of extra time getting where you're going? Here's what the number say...
50. Columbus, Ohio
Around 79% of commuters in Columbus drive to work alone, according to census estimates.
Here, cars line up at Ohio State University as students move into their dormitories for a new school year.
49. Minneapolis, Minnesota
The frequently snowy conditions in the Twin Cities only make bad traffic worse.
48. Hartford, Connecticut
According to a 2020 WalletHub study, Connecticut ranks — at No. 40 — as one of the worst states in America for car travel.
47. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Driving to and from the west side of New Mexico's most populous city can be a real headache.
46. Jacksonville, Florida
Florida's busiest highway, Interstate 95, runs right through the middle of Jacksonville.
45. Colorado Springs, Colorado
In 2020, the Colorado Springs Department of Transportation added meters to many freeway on-ramps. They expect to finish the project, which should help traffic on Interstate 25, by summer.
44. Birmingham, Alabama
Alabama's most populous city also has the dubious honor of having the state's worst traffic.
43. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix drivers spent an average of 62 hours per year stuck in traffic, according to a 2017 traffic study.
42. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh's population grew by more than 16% from 2010 to 2018. More people often means more commuters and more cars.
41. Greenville, South Carolina
There are 95 colleges within 100 miles of Greenville, and the area's traffic patterns differ depending on time of year. Here, Furman University students line up in cars to move into their dormitories.
40. Oxnard, Thousand Oaks and Ventura, California
The busy 101 freeway runs right through these cities in Southern California.
39. Salt Lake City, Utah
Though the Utah Transit Authority has expanded public transportation offerings in recent years, traffic still adds time to commutes in Salt Lake City.
38. San Antonio, Texas
Tired of sitting in traffic in downtown San Antonio? Hop on one of these electric scooters and wave to the drivers as you pass.
37. Tucson, Arizona
Drivers in Tucson wasted an average of 52 hours per year sitting in traffic in 2017.
36. McAllen, Texas
More than 6.8 million gallons of excess fuel are burned annually while drivers sit in McAllen's snarled traffic.
35. Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
With more than 2.6 million commuters traveling around the Dallas-Forth Worth metro area every day, it's no wonder the roads get congested.
34. Charlotte, North Carolina
An estimated 23,200 people ride Charlotte's light rail train system every weekday, but 673,000 people commute to work in their private cars — most of them alone.
If you're keeping score, that's nearly 30 times more drivers than train passengers.
33. Providence, Rhode Island
Providence's business hub is confined to just 90 acres. It doesn't take many cars before things start to get crowded.
Additionally, many workers commute between Providence and Boston via busy Interstate 95.
32. Baltimore, Maryland
In 2017, studies showed that traffic in Baltimore was jammed for 4.7 hours each day.
31. Bakersfield, California
Bakersfield, in California's Central Valley, sits at the base of a windy, narrow, heavily trafficked mountain pass, along the main artery from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Inclement weather can lower visibility and lead to major traffic jams in the area. And serious accidents can shut down the freeway for hours at a time.
30. Las Vegas, Nevada
Like any tourist destination, Las Vegas sees its fair share of traffic jams.
29. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Driving in Pittsburgh can be dangerous. Pittsburgh's drivers are among the worst in the nation, averaging just 6.8 years between accidents, according to insurance company Allstate.
28. Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida
These two cities on Florida's Gulf Coast see an influx of cars on sunny weekends.
27. Fresno, California
From 2012 to 2017, urban development in Fresno led to a 38% increase in the number of hours residents sat in traffic each year.
26. Boise, Idaho
Traffic woes are to be expected in one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
25. New Orleans, Louisiana
Driving in the city's historic French Quarter can be a hassle. In addition to traffic clogging your path, other hazards include unruly pedestrians, construction, and boisterous Second Line parades.
24. Charleston, South Carolina
In 2017, nearly 8.8 million gallons of gas were burned while drivers sat in Charleston traffic.
23. Orlando, Florida
Orlando's tourism industry is a major employer in the region. Hundreds of thousands of people commute to the city's many theme parks for work.
Then consider that nearly 79 million tourists converged on Orlando in 2018. That's an extra 1.5 million people on the road every week. That volume of visitors would clog streets in any city.
22. Denver, Colorado
In 2017, drivers in Denver spent an average of 61 hours per year sitting in traffic. That's 2.5 days lost for each commuter.
21. Tampa, Florida
If you've ever been sitting on County Line Road between Dale Mabry Highway and U.S. 41, wondering if it would be faster to get out of your car and walk, you won't be surprised by Tampa's spot on this list.
20. Houston, Texas
In 2017, Houston driver spent an average of a whopping 75 hours sitting in traffic.
19. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The interchange between Interstates 76 and 676 ranked as one of the 40 most congested roadways in the country, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.
18. Sacramento, California
In 2017, Sacramento drivers spent an average of $1,118 extra on gas because of time spent idling in traffic.
17. Atlanta, Georgia
In Atlanta, 76.9 million gallons of extra fuel were burned by cars crawling through crowded Atlanta streets in 2017.
16. Riverside, California
Southern California freeways are notoriously choked with traffic, especially at convergence points where many busy freeways meet in a spaghetti-knotted mess of blinkers and break lights.
In Riverside, that bottleneck takes place at the intersection of the 60, the 91 and the 215 freeways.
15. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville's traffic isn't just caused by the city's country music attractions. The population has increased more than 10% since 2010, according to census estimates.
14. Portland, Oregon
Though Portland is seen as a bike-friendly city, car traffic is still a major problem. During peak travel hours, freeway speeds can plummet and more than double travel times.
13. Boston, Massachusetts
In 2017, Bostonians lost an average of 80 hours and $1,580 to traffic jams.
12. San Diego, California
Compared with other cities in Southern California, San Diego's traffic might seem like a free-flowing dream. But in the evening rush — from 3 p.m. to around 6 p.m. — trips take around 60% more time than they would in free-flowing conditions.
What's the worst time to be on the road in San Diego? Thursday at 5 p.m.
11. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The population of Baton Rouge is around 230,000 people. The official seating capacity of Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium, located in the city, is 102,321 — approaching half the population.
With so many people pouring into the area, drivers in Baton Rouge see Saturday football traffic that rivals the crippling Thursday evening rush. The University often issues traffic and parking reminders before big games.
10. Austin, Texas
The annual number of hours spent in traffic in Austin increased by 20% from 2012 to 2017. During that same period, the city's population grew by more than 11%.
9. Honolulu, Hawaii
Leaving work before 4 p.m. on Thursdays could save you up to 4 hours in traffic per year, assuming a 30 minute commute, according to TomTom.
8. Chicago, Illinois
A 2019 study ranked the corridor around the I-90 and I-94 interchange as the sixth-most congested in the nation. The average speed during peak hours in this area is 16.1 miles per hour.
7. Washington D.C.
In 2017, drivers in Washington D.C. spent an average of 102 hours sitting in traffic.
6. Miami, Florida
With an estimated 2.8 million daily commuters and a healthy flow of tourists, it's no mystery why Miami has such bad traffic.
5. Seattle, Washington
Seattle's rush hour lasts five hours each day, costing drivers an average of $1,541 in extra gas.
4. San Jose, California
In January 2020, Ebay, the tech giant headquartered in San Jose, discontinued a shuttle service that drove workers around the San Francisco Bay Area. The reason? Not enough people were taking advantage.
They're driving instead.
3. San Francisco
San Francisco drivers spent 103 hours sitting in traffic in 2017, costing drivers an average $2,619 more in gas.
2. New York City
New York City ranks at No. 52 globally for cities with the worst traffic.
1. Los Angeles
In 2017, Angelenos spent nearly 5 entire days and more than $2,600 sitting in traffic on busy freeways and surface streets. In addition to being the worst in the U.S., it ranks at No. 31 on TomTom's list of cities with the worst traffic in the world.