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Places With the Worst Traffic Jams in the US – Cities to Avoid

  American cities have some of the world’s worst traffic, with commuters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and others regularly stuck on co...

 American cities have some of the world’s worst traffic, with commuters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and others regularly stuck on congested roads. Bad driving, poor infrastructure and public transit, and rapid population growth are among the many reasons these 17 cities suffer from the worst traffic jams in America. 

New York City, New York

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Tom Tom’s Traffic Index for 2023 found that New York had America’s worst traffic, with commuters spending almost 25 minutes driving six miles. Commuters in the Big Apple lose the most time in rush-hour traffic jams, where a typical six-minute trip takes an hour.

Washington, D.C.

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In surveys, Washington, D.C., is often found to be the second most congested city in America after New York. Construction, bad weather in the winter, and major political events lead to increased density and congestion, wasting hours of commuters’ time. 

Seattle, Washington

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In surveys, Seattle is usually one of America’s top 10 most congested cities. The linear city sandwiched between Puget Sound and Lake Washington is known for having major congestion issues in areas like the I-5 core.

Los Angeles, California

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L.A. is infamous for its traffic jams. LA Progressive argues that traffic is worsening in the city “despite population decline, the construction of a new mass transit system, and the incremental build out of a bicycle lane network.” They argue that people choose cars for the job opportunities they bring, that apartments are auto-oriented, and that the 11,000 miles of sidewalk “discourage walking.”

San Francisco, California

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San Francisco’s traffic isn’t as bad as Los Angeles’s, but residents still suffer from hours of wasted time in congestion. Avrek Law Injury Attorneys point to data showing “that in 2019, drivers spent 97 hours waiting in traffic, which cost the city approximately $3 billion.” The city’s dense infrastructure and roads are in poor condition, and its high population increases congestion. 

Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston has some of the world’s worst traffic, with residents wasting over 30 hours in traffic on average each year, close to six days. Bostonians spend over $2,000 a year on these traffic jams, which have gotten worse since COVID-19. 

Chicago, Illinois

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Chicago was the fifth most congested city in Tom Tom’s 2023 traffic index. The Windy City is a multimodal freight hub, with ten interstate highways in the metro area alone, which results in truck traffic causing wider congestion. 

Houston, Texas

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Houston’s urban sprawl has more than doubled since 1970 and is now larger than the size of Delaware. As more people have moved into the city and the suburbs have been pushed outwards, vehicle use has increased, leading to notorious congestion in spots like the Katy Freeway. 

Miami, Florida

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Vice City is known for its nightlife, golden beaches, and food scene, but it also suffers from congestion. CBS News reported that in 2021, the average driver lost 105 hours to congestion, which is “so bad because of the newcomers moving to South Florida,” attracted by the restaurants and nightlife destinations.

Dallas, Texas

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Dallas is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, which has led to more suburbs and traffic congestion. The Mixmaster interchange is especially known for its traffic jams, and the price for toll booths that aim to decrease congestion can be very high. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia was Tom Tom’s eighth most congested city of 2023, with 10-km (6.2-mile) journeys taking an average of 15 minutes and 40 seconds. Traffic is most congested at 4 p.m., and routes like the I-76/I-676 eastbound are particularly bad.

Denver, Colorado

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A range of factors causes Denver’s traffic problems. Still, the most significant are the population increase over recent decades, poor infrastructure and promotion of mass transit, and bad driving. Denver has one of the country’s highest numbers of accidents caused by bad driving, leading to delays. 

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon
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While Portland’s rush hour traffic isn’t generally as bad as in larger cities on the West Coast, it does have some issues. Traveling northbound on Interstate 5 between the Rose Quarter and Vancouver, Washington, an 8-mile stretch, has been described as the worst bottleneck on the West Coast. 

Atlanta, Georgia

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Fox 5 Atlanta recently reported that of the worst “100 bottlenecks in the country, Atlanta has six spots in the top 20 alone.” Spaghetti Junction and Interstate 20 at Interstate 285 are particularly bad, wasting hours of commuter time.

Baltimore, Maryland

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Charm City was the sixth most congested city on Tom Tom’s 2023 Traffic Index, with a 10-km journey taking 17 minutes and 40 seconds. With the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, that figure is likely to increase. 

Orlando, Florida

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Orlando has a relatively under-developed highway system, especially for travelers going from east to west. The city also has a high annual number of tourists visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, increasing congestion. 

Las Vegas, Nevada

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The City of Lights can have particularly bad traffic on the Central Strip during the weekends, often leading to congestion on other major roads. Visitors and residents can take the monorail to avoid traffic, but there aren’t many public transportation options. 

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