TomTom, maker of the Rider 400 GPS and other satellite navigation devices, has released the results of the TomTom Traffic Index 2016, its annual report detailing the cities around the world with the most traffic congestion. The results show that America’s biggest West Coast cities are mired in traffic-clogged commutes, with major Midwest and East Coast cities not far behind.
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Not surprisingly, Los Angeles topped the rankings for having the nastiest gridlock, ahead of San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Jose and Honolulu. The TomTom Traffic Index found that Los Angeles had an overall congestion level of 41 percent last year, meaning the percentage of extra travel time on both highways and non-highways anytime of the day vs. free-flowing conditions. That’s up from 39 percent in 2014.
Traffic was worse during rush hours. In Los Angeles, a typical half-hour commute took 81 percent longer during after-work peak periods and 60 percent longer during the morning peak. For weary commuters in Southern California, traffic jams added up to 164 hours of extra travel time per year–almost a full week stuck in their cars.
Motorcyclists enjoy some relief, however, since California is the only state in the U.S. that allows lane splitting, also known as lane sharing or traffic filtering. Californians on two wheels can ride between lanes of gridlocked cars, providing some relief from heavy traffic congestion.
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TomTom’s traffic study found that Seattle had the country’s second-worst evening rush hour congestion with a 75 percent increase in travel time, followed by San Jose (74 percent), San Francisco (69 percent) and Houston (66 percent).
The overall congestion level in the Top 10 cities averaged 31 percent, about the same as last year. TomTom experts attributed that to new traffic management policies, investments in infrastructure and more flexible working schedules to make up for more traffic from job growth and bad weather.
Drivers and riders in some cities even enjoyed a reduction in traffic congestion from last year, including Las Vegas, Denver, Tucson, St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
The TomTom Traffic Index–now in its fifth year of public release–breaks down not only the best and worst times to hit the road but also which days are the most traffic-clogged.
Using data from 2015, the TomTom Traffic Index assessed traffic congestion in 295 major cities in 38 countries on six continents. TomTom works with 14 trillion data points that have been accumulated over eight years.
Among the U.S. highlights:
- The full Top 10 ranking for most congested big cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Jose, Honolulu, Miami, Washington, D.C., Portland, and Chicago.
- Some of them–Honolulu, Washington and Chicago–recorded a slight improvement in the overall traffic driving time from last year. But the leaders, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, each got worse.
- Fast-growing cities in the South also ranked high, including Houston (11th on the overall congestion list), Atlanta (13), Tampa (15), Orlando (16), Baton Rouge (18), Nashville (19) and Austin (21).
- Cities enjoying the smoothest commutes were Midwest mainstays: Kansas City, Indianapolis, Omaha-Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Dayton, Ohio.
TomTom, based in Amsterdam, has worked with travel planners worldwide, offering the traffic data to help enhance mobility plans, smart city strategies and public transit and infrastructure. The information, gathered in part from navigational devices, also can be used by motorists at peak traffic periods to consider different departure times to avoid hang ups or to use other means of travel.
The TomTom Traffic Index, individual city rankings and the congestion levels can be accessed at tomtom.com/trafficindex. There’s also helpful advice on beating traffic and, for the first time, a selection of “Profile Cities” that provides insight into what they are doing to improve mobility.