Traffic Tie-ups Pile up

June 20, 2002 ( - If employers are looking around at a sea of empty office desks, the occupants of those work stations are probably still trying to get to work through traffic jams costing $68 billion yearly in wasted gas and time, a new study said.

A study from the Texas Transportation Institute of 75 urban areas found that traffic jams on the whole are longer and more widespread with the average motorist spending 62 hours in a jam in 2000 – up exponentially from the 16 hours registered in 1982, according to the Associated Press.

Getting Nowhere Fast

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More than half the major roads in the 75 areas in the 2000 study are crowded during rush hours, compared with just a third in 1982.

“The congested time is now lengthening and now incorporates more roads and more travel than in the past,” said the report released Thursday. “Even the smaller areas are not able to keep pace with rising demand.”

The institute, part of Texas A&M University, analyzed data from the Federal Highway Administration and ten state highway departments. It ranked the areas according to the additional time it took motorists to drive during congested periods compared with the rest of the day.

The study found rush-hour drivers in Los Angeles spending the equivalent of more than three 40-hour work weeks sitting in traffic, while those in San Francisco and Washington spent more than two work weeks’ worth of time in congestion.

The 25 urban areas with the longest annual delays per rush-hour driver:


  • Los Angeles, 136 hours
  • San Francisco-Oakland, 92 hours
  • Washington, 84 hours
  • Seattle, 82 hours
  • Houston, 75 hours
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, 74 hours
  • San Jose, Calif. 74 hours
  • New York, 73 hours
  • Atlanta, 70 hours
  • Miami, 69 hours
  • Boston, 67 hours
  • Chicago, 67 hours
  • Denver, 67 hours
  • Orlando, Fla., 66 hours
  • San Bernadino, Calif., 64 hours
  • Austin, Texas, 61 hours
  • Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 61 hours
  • Phoenix, 59 hours
  • Detroit, 55 hours
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, 54 hours
  • San Diego, 51 hours
  • Baltimore, 50 hours
  • Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore.  47 hours
  • Louisville, Ky., 46 hours

Read the full report .