Evening traffic crawls in both directions on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway

Evening traffic crawls in both directions on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, February 13, 2023 in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein (Getty Images)

You’d think with many employers offering work from home and flexible start times, traffic jams would be fewer and farther between, but data from the mapping technology company Tom Tom shows commutes are more frustrating than ever.

Tom Tom has been tracking traffic patterns across the globe for years. It sets an interesting metric for its rankings: How fast a car can travel six miles in a city during rush hour. Researchers measure the travel time in 389 cities across the globe, including 80 in our own U.S. of A., and they compared 2022’s number to the travel times in 2021. They also calculated pollution generated and cost to the owner per kilometer or mile.

Washington D.C. and Indianapolis had the worst slow downs; both cities added a minute-and-a-half to their six-mile trek from 2021 to 2022. New York City, the slowest city in the U.S., added a minute and 10 seconds to its average six-mile drive time of 24 minutes and 30 seconds. Folks too good to take the train into Manhattan now spend an astonishing 236 hours in traffic each year.

There is some good news, however! Seven major U.S. metropolitan areas saw a decrease in their average drive times, with Orlando shaving off a whole 30 seconds of drive time! That’s despite the occasional alligator in the road. Commutes in other cities, like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, dropped 10 or 20 seconds from their average commutes. Eleven more saw no change in traffic patterns. That leaves 62 U.S. cities where our drives were just a little bit slower every day.

But still, that’s nothing at all compared to the world’s slowest commute. Londoners spend 325 hours in traffic last year, and a six-mile car trip through London takes, on average, 35 minutes and five seconds. That’s over 13 days (or as our British cousins would say, ov’ a fortnight) worth of time lost to traffic. London is also the second most expensive place to drive a car, costing owners $3,063 for every 10,000 miles. It’s beat only by Hong Kong at $3,395 per 10,000 miles.

You can find the study here, and it’s full of interesting stats if you’re a huge nerd like myself. I, for one, would not have guessed that traffic in Winnipeg would be slower than Los Angeles’ legendary traffic jams.

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