Even though commuters are adjusting their driving schedules to adapt for traffic jams, recent studies show these daily delays on America’s highways are costing consumers over $100 billion in wasted fuel and time.
A recently released annual study of national driving patterns from Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that on average American drivers wasted over $800 each in 2011 while sitting in traffic. Institute researchers use traffic data from a period of thirty years. The annual reports are one of the key tools used by experts to resolve traffic problems. Part of the study focuses on how commuters adapted their travel plans when they have somewhere to be in an area of high congestion. The gathered data comes from private companies, state transportation agencies as well as other academic entities that monitor traffic issues.
Researchers found that on average, American drivers allow up to an hour driving time for a trip that under light traffic conditions would take less than 30 minutes. This nationaltrend of extra time total added up to over 5 billion extra hours we spent in our vehicles in 2011. When all the costs were totaled, traffic congestion cost American drivers over $120 billion; this was up $1 billion from 2010. Commercial truck drivers by themselves had a total of over $20 billion.
The new study also showed that on average American drivers burned almost 3 billion gallons of gas while sitting in congested traffic. While this is a staggering amount, it’s an improvement over the nearly 3.5 billion wasted in 2005. Researchers state that this may be in part due to the current economic recession.
A new part of the report this year included the additional amount of carbon dioxide that traffic clogging created. The final figure? Over 50 billion pounds for 2011. That averaged out to over 300 pounds per driver. This statistic alone shows that we need to seriously implement improvements in transportation systems to ease congestion and that when the economy improves this number may go back up.
The worst traffic congestion in the United States? Our nation’s capital. In 2011, Washington, D.C. commuters needed almost three hours for what should have been a half hour or less commute time. The least congested traffic area in the U.S.? Pensacola, Florida. On average there, commuters only needed an extra nine minutes when traffic is heavy. The cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, New York and Boston also earned the title of being most congested after D.C. for 2011.