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U.S. traffic congestion again on the rise after 2-year slump, new report says

The uptick in traffic congestion in 2013 follows a 22 percent decrease in 2012. The stop-and-go nature of the results indicate an overall economic climate that has not yet returned to pre-recession levels in many areas, including total jobs and unemployment rates.

The Trucker News Services

4/26/2013

KIRKLAND, Wash. Last year, drivers wasted an average of 62 hours on America's most congested roads. And it’s only going to get worse, according to INRIX, an international provider of traffic information and driver services.

In its sixth Traffic Scorecard Annual Report, INRIX revealed that in the first three months of this year, traffic congestion is up 4 percent compared to 2012. This suggests that after a tumultuous economic year in 2012, the economy is back on the mend bringing increased traffic congestion, INRIX stated in a news release.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, click here. http://www.multivu.com/mnr/61109-inrix-traffic-scorecard-reports-u-s-congestion-on-the-rise

The uptick in traffic congestion in 2013 follows a 22 percent decrease in 2012. The stop-and-go nature of the results indicate an overall economic climate that has not yet returned to pre-recession levels in many areas, including total jobs and unemployment rates.

"Fears over recurring fiscal deadlines and ongoing debt issues last year likely fueled declines in traffic congestion, with businesses and consumers alike taking a wait-and-see approach," said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO. "While bad news for drivers, the gains we've seen in the U.S. and a few countries in Europe in 2013 are cause for some optimism about the direction of the economy."

With many economic indicators, such as household wealth and retail sales, trending toward the positive in 2013, INRIX's comparison of congestion in 2012 versus 2013 year-to-date indicates how the overall economic climate affects national traffic congestion. Key global findings include:

-- Among all 15 countries analyzed worldwide, only three (Luxembourg, Ireland and the U.S.) have experienced increases in 2013. Only one country had increased traffic congestion in 2012 - Luxembourg. In Europe, the countries with the biggest declines in traffic have the highest rates of unemployment as they continue to struggle through the European debt crisis

-- In 2013, traffic congestion in the U.S. increased each month for the first three months of the year, the first such consecutive month increase in two years. This increase is in line with a steady increase in employment in the first three months of 2013 (+1.3%).

-- So far this year, 61 of America's Top 100 Most Populated Cities have experienced increased traffic congestion. This is a dramatic shift from 2012, where only six cities experienced increases and 94 saw decreases.

-- Seven of 2012's Top 10 Worst Cities for Traffic in America have experienced increasing traffic congestion in 2013. The largest increase to date is in Boston (+30 percent), likely a result of the Boston metropolitan area boasting unemployment figures that were 1.2 percentage points lower than the national average in February 2013.

-- In Europe, traffic congestion fell 18 percent in 2012 and continues to spiral downward in 2013 with a further 23 percent decline in the first quarter. Eighty-one of the 94 European cities analysed have experienced decreases in traffic congestion in Q1 2013.

Los Angeles is back at the top of the list in 2012 after falling to number two in 2011 (behind Honolulu). This is likely due to the fact that Los Angeles County gained approximately 90,000 jobs in February 2013 a growth rate of 2.3 percent. This is the fastest year-over-year growth in employment across the Los Angeles area since the recession began in 2007.

By analyzing traffic in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas in 2012, INRIX revealed that drivers wasted an average of 42 hours in America's Top 10 Worst Traffic Cities - the equivalent to one week of vacation. The table below represents the Top 10 Worst Cities for Traffic in America in 2012:

Rank City             Hours Lost in 2012 % Change 2012 vs. 2011 % Change

                                                                        Q1 2013 vs.

                                                                        Q1 2012

        1    Los Angeles      59                 -9%                    +6%

        2    Honolulu         50                 -23%                   +4%

        3    San Francisco    49                 -7%                    +3%

        4    Austin, TX       38                 +3%                    +8%

        5    New York         50                 -17%                   +10%

        6    Bridgeport, CT   39                 -19%                   +16%

        7    San Jose, CA     31                 +6%                    +13%

        8    Seattle          35                 -10%                   -11%

        9    Washington, D.C. 41                 -18%                   -5%

        10   Boston           31                 -22%                   +30%

        

The Top 10 Worst Roads for Traffic in 2012 were:

-- The Cross Bronx Expy Drivers on New York's worst highway waste over six days each year in traffic.

-- The San Diego Fwy (l.a.:I-405 SB) Consistently jammed in both directions, the 405 is LA's worst freeway; the 8.1-mile stretch leading to Mullholland Dr. takes drivers over 50 minutes on Tuesday mornings - the worst day and time of the week.

-- The Van Wyck Expy On Thursdays between 4-5 p.m., drivers crawl at 10 mph, and it takes nearly 40 minutes to travel 6 miles.

-- The Santa Monica Fwy (l.a.:I-10 EB) It can take drivers up to over an hour (63 min) to navigate the 15-mile stretch from Lincoln Blvd. to Alameda.

-- The Riverside Fwy (l.a.:CA-91 EB) Drivers waste approximately six days per year in gridlock on this road.

-- The Long Island Expy New Yorkers waste more than a half hour per day on the evening commute in traffic on the L.I.E.

-- Brooklyn Queens Expy It takes approximately an hour to go 10 miles on this highway during the Tuesday evening commute.

-- San Diego Fwy (l.a.:I-405 NB) A 13-mile stretch up to Getty Center Drive takes 40 minutes at a crawl of 20 mph.

-- The Dan Ryan/Kennedy Expy (chicagI-90/I-94 WB) Chicago commuters waste approximately one work week (5 days) every year in traffic on this popular road to O'Hare Airport.

-- The Santa Ana/Golden St. Fwy (L.A. I-5 SB) An 18-minute trip on this 17-mile stretch takes almost 50 minutes on weekday afternoons

Additionally, the Scorecard uncovered several other interesting trends regarding national commute times during rush hour. According to INRIX, the worst times to be on the roads in terms of delay are weekday mornings between 7-8 a.m. and weekday evenings between 4-5 p.m. The busiest morning commute hour is Tuesday from 8-9 a.m., and the busiest evening commute takes place on Friday from 5-6 p.m.

While the Scorecard tells the story of rising traffic congestion indicative of a recovering economy, the report shows that, unlike the U.S., Europe traffic congestion is decreasing as the Eurozone continues to struggle through its debt crisis. Traffic congestion fell 18 percent across Europe in 2012 and continues to spiral downward in 2013 with a further 23 percent decline in the first quarter.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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