NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Road Congestion Wastes 1.9 Billion Gallons of Gas

March 27, 2012

As Americans pay about $4 per gallon for gasoline, they're wasting 1.9 billion gallons of it annually in traffic on congested roads, according to a new Treasury Department report, says USA Today.

  • Traffic congestion costs drivers more than $100 billion annually in wasted fuel and lost time, according to the report released Friday.
  • Poor conditions of roads cost the average motorist who regularly drives in cities more than $400 annually in additional vehicle maintenance.

Other report findings:

  • An annual investment of $85 billion over the next 20 years would be required, according to the Department of Transportation, "to bring existing highways and bridges into a state of good repair."
  • For 90 percent of Americans, the report says, transportation costs absorb $1 of every $7 of income.
  • The average American family spends more than $7,600 annually on transportation -- more than it spends on food and twice what it spends on out-of-pocket health care costs, according to the report.
  • During the past 15 years, there was a sharp increase in transit system ridership from nearly 8 billion in 1996 to 10.4 billion in 2011. A main factor in the growth was increased ridership in heavy and light rail, which had a combined ridership growth of more than 70 percent.
  • America invests less in transportation infrastructure than other countries: The United States spends about 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on infrastructure; China, India and Europe spend about 9 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent of GDP, respectively, on infrastructure.

Source: Gary Stoller, "Road Congestion Wastes 1.9 billion Gallons of Gas," USA Today, March 26, 2012.

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