NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds Traffic Getting Worse Everywhere

May 8, 2001

There is no longer any rush during "rush hour" -- and it takes much longer than an hour. Such is the conclusion of a study from the Texas Transportation Institute.

Clogged streets and highways, and bumper-to-bumper traffic have left the average U.S. motorist stalled in traffic 36 hours a year, the study revealed.

  • Congestion costs Los Angeles motorists 56 hours lost a year -- and 50 hours a year or more for auto commuters in Atlanta, Seattle and Houston.
  • The 36 hours average Americans sat in traffic in 1999 compares to just 11 hours in 1982.
  • Residents of small urban areas -- defined as 500,000 population or fewer -- spend 10 hours a year in traffic, five times what they spent in 1982.
  • Congestion consumes 6.8 billion gallons of fuel, 4.5 billion hours of travel time and costs the nation $78 billion a year.

The last time "rush hour" was actually 60 minutes was during the Nixon administration.

Source: Scott Bowles, "Traffic in More of a Jam than Ever, Study Says," USA Today, May 8, 2001; David Schrank and Tim Lomax, "2001 Urban Mobility Study," Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A & M University, May 7, 2001.


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