When it comes to traffic in the United States, it’s safe to say that it can get bad.
The time Americans waste on the road every year amounts to $160 billion. In some areas, it’s so bad that drivers are better off calling up an auto recycling service to get their car and finding alternate transportation, considering all the time they’d spend in gridlocked traffic.
But which states are the worst when it comes to traffic? TitleMax went ahead and figured that out in a 2014 study.
How the Study Worked
The TitleMax Study was fairly simple. First, the company got a measurement of the mileage in each state’s public roadways, along with the total number of cars registered in that state. They then divided the number of cars by the miles of roadway to come up with what they called a congestion index.
The congestion index itself was separated into different score ranges. The score ranges were as follows:
• 19 and under
• 20 to 29
• 30 to 39
• 40 to 49
• 50 to 69
• 70 to 89
• 90 to 119
• 120 to 169
• 170 to 229
• 230 and over
When it comes to terrible traffic, there was one state that stood above all the rest, and that was Hawaii with a congestion score of 313.87. The state actually doesn’t have a large number of registered vehicles, as it was actually in the bottom 11 in that regard with 1,393,259 vehicles. However, it only has 4,439 miles of roadway, a very small amount for that number of drivers. Another problem with Hawaii in terms of traffic is that it’s a major tourist destination, so those roads are often packed with unfamiliar drivers.
No other state even came close to Hawaii, as it was the only state to score in that 230 and over range. The next two on the list were Washington D.C. and New Jersey, with congestion scores of 222.44 and 176.07, respectively. Although New York and New Jersey are neighbors, New York’s congestion score was only 94.97 in comparison, likely because that state has many more residents who use public transportation.
Congestion Can Vary Significantly Within a State
One point that’s important to note is that in certain states, the traffic can be much different from one city to the next. California is the prime example of this. The state actually has the most registered vehicles in the nation with 28,686,646, but it’s also large enough to balance that out. With 225,531 miles of public roadway, it comes in second only to Texas in that regard. While much of California doesn’t deal with much traffic congestion, its largest cities are extremely congested, with Los Angeles and San Francisco both dealing with some of the worst traffic in the world. Some of its other large cities, including San Diego, San Jose and Oakland can also be quite congested.
For the record, Hawaii also had a city on that worst traffic in the world list, with Honolulu.
The Least Traffic
There were two states that had far less traffic than any other, and those were North and South Dakota. With 870,731 registered vehicles compared to 87,088 miles of public roadway, North Dakota had a congestion score of 10. South Dakota had a few more cars and a little less roadway, so it scored a 12.51. In this case, the stats match the stereotype, as North Dakota’s roads are known for being empty at all hours, to the point where there’s even an Enchanted Highway attraction to provide drivers with some excitement.
Traffic in the Future
State and local governments have attempted to reduce traffic congestion in many ways, such as using adaptive traffic signals and making streets safer for bikes to encourage alternate methods of transportation. However, one significant issue is that more and more Americans are choosing the city or suburban life over rural areas, leading to more cars in those cities. It looks like it will be a continual struggle to reduce the amount of people on the roads.