A new report says U.S. drivers spend, on average, over 65 hours a year sitting in traffic. The Washington D.C. region ranked top of the list of those commuters wasting time stuck in road congestion.
A new report compiled by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute that examined traffic data found that in 2011 the average commuter spent 61 hours sitting in traffic and spent $818, reported the Consumerist (via Associated Press). As a nation, the total came to $121 billion, a $1 billion increase over 2010.
The Washington D.C. region tops the nation with traffic congestion. According to the Washington Post, the average driver traveling in and around the Beltway spent 67 hours a year and 32 gallons of gas while stuck in traffic.
"Commuters in Washington D.C. had it the worst, needing about three hours for a trip that would take 30 minutes without traffic," said the Consumerist.
Those who live in the region, which includes border states Maryland and Virginia, would probably agree this figure sounds about right. Many locals work hours such as 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in order to avoid the brunt of the congestion. While commuting is time-consuming, even a trip to the doctor or grocery can sometimes take some planning if the route includes some of the well-traveled roads.
Northern Virginia traffic. You can see the brake lights as the rush hour begins and traffic comes to a halt on this section of southbound Route 28; an area known for heavy commuter traffic in the afternoon.
HOV lanes are one way the Washington region tries to deal with traffic.
HOV sign lit up that shows the lane is open to all traffic on eastbound I-66 at this time of day. Come morning rush hour, this HOV lane will be restricted to cars with more than 1 occupant.
Washington's I-495 is probably one of the worst places to get stuck. On a Friday night, this beltway can resemble long-term parking at times.
While Washington spends more time and gas in traffic than other cities do, several other regions have challenges as well. Cities ranking immediately behind Washington in the report were Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston. The study also noted individual regions are unique and require "different, multi-faceted approaches to solving congestion", said the Associated Press report.
If the news of so many wasted hours and gas in traffic wasn't bad enough, it appears, overall, the situation is going to deteriorate even more. Analysts said that by 2020 it's going to be worse.
In Washington, the outlook is gloomy too. Although, it is way too early to tell if it'll make a difference, but a new Metro line is being built that will connect Northern Virginia's Dulles Airport to Washington with stops at many of the commuter areas in between. This could possibly alleviate some of the congestion.
“Washington, D.C., has the dubious distinction of being number one in two areas. It is the capital of partisan gridlock, and now traffic gridlock,” Pete Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, said Washington's issues were two-fold, stating, “The real news in the report is the projection that traffic congestion costs will balloon another 65 percent by 2020 if we maintain the status quo. The number of hours of lost time will also skyrocket 55 percent.”