AND YOU THOUGHT SA WAS BAD? We're not the worst country in the world when it comes to traffic... You can sit up to 42hours per year in traffic elsewhere. Image: Shutterstock
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - A strong economy and cheap fuel has put more road users on US roads , leading to the worst traffic congestion yet.forcing the average urban commuter to waste about 42 hours a year stuck in traffic jams.
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) report estimates US highway congestion costs $160-billion a year, including from lost productivity, fuel burned while idling in traffic and additional wear and tear on vehicles.
Bill Eisele, senior researcher for the TTI, said: "The higher congestion levels are clearly the downside of increased economic activity."
TTI put together the annual Urban Mobility Scorecard along with traffic tracking company INRIX. TTI is part of Texas A&M University.
Eisele said Americans drove a record number of miles in the last 12 months, surpassing the previous peak set in 2007, before the start of the massive economic downturn.
He said: "Congestion is mirroring the national trend."
In 1982, road users spent an average of 16 hours a year sitting in traffic jams, by 2010, that time had grown to 38 hours, TTI said.
Tim Lomax, a report co-author, said Washington DC, has the worst gridlock in the country, with commuters wasting 82 hours a year stuck in traffic, nearly twice the national average.
The other most congestion-plagued cities include Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and San Jose.
91 MINS TO TRAVEL 42KM
Six of the country's 10 most congested stretches of highway are in metro Los Angeles, with two each in Chicago and New York City. The "worst" highway in the country is US 101 in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.
During rush hour, it can take 91 minutes to travel 42km on the 101, at an average speed of 27km/h, it said.
Lomax said: "Our growing traffic problem is too massive for any one entity to handle.
"Businesses can give their employees more flexibility in where, when and how they work, individual workers can adjust their commuting patterns, and we can have better thinking when it comes to long-term land use planning."
Eisele said big-city level traffic congestion is trickling down to smaller metro areas: "Nationwide, the average travel delay per commuter is more than twice what it was in 1982. For cities of less than 500 000 people, the problem is four times worse than in 1982."
WORST TRAFFIC IN SA
Cape Town retains the title of 'Most Congested City in SA' according to TomTom's annual global traffic index. Cape Town, with a global ranking of 55, is the country's most congested city with a congestion level of 29%, meaning travel time is increased by an average of 29% during heavy traffic.