No one likes being stuck in traffic. It takes a lot of our time and energy. Preliminary 2019 reports from the Federal Highway Administration show that road travel has increased to an all-time high of 2.1 trillion vehicle miles in the United States alone. So, what’s causing all this traffic?
What causes roads to become congested?
Congestion is part of supply and demand. The demand for road space exceeds the amount of road space. This means that traffic happens when the number of cars on the road outnumber the available space on the road itself. What is measured, when it comes to traffic congestion is the delay of a commute rather than the duration of the commute itself. The delay is caused by an area’s population, economy, infrastructure, and the availability of rideshare and delivery services. For example, an older city has an older infrastructure, which typically results in inefficient roadways incapable of supporting a modern supply of vehicles. Personally, this results in an exorbitant amount of time spent in a car.
World cities with the worst commutes
The 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, published by the world leader in mobility analytics and connected car services INRIX, used data points to identify and rank the most congested cities in the world. According to the Departments of Transportation, road weather conditions, connected vehicles, journalistic incidents, found these towns to have the worst commutes in the world, spending days in traffic annually:
- Bogota, Colombia: approximately 11+ days lost in congestion
- Mexico City, Mexico: approximately 9+ days lost in congestion
- Moscow, Russia: approximately 8+ days lost in congestion
- Istanbul, Turkey: approximately 6+ days lost in congestion
- São Paulo, Brazil: approximately 6+ days lost in congestion
When you consider the geography and topography of these Latin American cities, it’s no wonder that some of the world’s worst congestion occurs there. With limited financial resources to improve infrastructure in the midst of growing urbanization, traffic is a problem that gets worse every day and there are no solutions in sight. Many cities have topographic restrictions that limit resources when building roads.
American cities and roads with the worst traffic
As far as the United States is concerned, many older cities are among the most congested. Many of the major cities with the worst traffic in the U.S. have faced aging and the confined infrastructure tasked with dealing with a growing population. Between 2010 and 2018, for example, New York City estimated that they added an additional 223,615 residents. The most significant influx of residents is in the Bronx, which has experienced a 3.4% increase in population over the past eight years. Some of the most congested cities include Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Is traffic only going to get worse?
Road congestion causes delays and drivers are caught up in the financial burden. So, will traffic only get worse? Well, it depends. The global population is slightly inclined, but many countries are implementing policy changes to limit the number of cars on the road. These changes encourage citizens and tourists to use public transport or alternative methods of transportation, such as vehicle sharing services or scooters. This not only affects the reduction of road congestion, but also CO2 emissions. If you are frustrated with your current commute, you may want to research an area with a lower population density or city and consider making a change.