CHARLOTTE, NC — Every driver in the Charlotte-metro area knows that the commutes can be awful in the Queen City region. If you’re a driver in the United States, you’re probably intimately familiar with what traffic jams look like, or at least more so than the rest of the developed world. That’s because American drivers spend on average about 41 hours — roughly a whole work week — staring at someone else’s bumper because they’re stuck in traffic, according to a new report by the analytics company INRIX.
That horrid shared experience of inching along on the roadway and braking every few feet cost the United States more than $300 billion last year — an amount roughly the size of Singapore’s whole economy. Charlotte ranked 54th in the United States and 358th in the world for traffic congestion, with each driver spending on average 23 hours a week at peak periods tied up in traffic last year.
Washington, D.C., in contrast, ranked sixth in the United States and 18th in the world, with each driver spending on average 63 hours in congestion in 2017.
Charlotte drivers spent 7 percent of their time sitting in traffic. During the morning and evening commutes, area drivers spend 10 percent of that time stuck in congestion on roads into and out of the city.
Massive congestion hurts the economy, too, INRIX said, because it leads to direct costs — wasted time and fuel — and indirect costs, meaning freight and business fees from idling vehicles that are later passed on to households through higher prices.
The average American driver lost more than $1,400 last year due to congestion, the analysis found.
Three of the top five most congested cities on Earth are in America, the company found. Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles — where drivers spent on average 100 hours last year in traffic — ranked No. 1 in the world.
New York City ranked No. 2 with 91 hours and San Francisco ranked fifth worldwide with 79.
INRIX evaluated more than 1,300 cities in 38 countries to come up with its rankings.
Thailand had the highest average amount of time spent in peak congestion at 56 hours, followed by Indonesia at 51 hours, Columbia at 49 hours, and Venezuela at 42.
See how your city stacked up against the rest of the world here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Original reporting by Patch Editor Deb Belt