This Is How Much Money It Costs You to Sit in Traffic

Hint: You're not going to like it.

Ever sulk in traffic during your morning commute and wonder—during all time that you’re basically just sitting there—how many hours and how much cash you’re truly wasting? And beyond that, how much your collective herd of fellow stop-and-goers is costing your city as a whole?

A new study by INRIX, a transportation analytics firm, analyzed just that, and found that—in the U.S. at least—we’re wasting a ton.

Cities in the U.S. made up half of the firm’s list of top-10 most globally congested cities; Los Angeles came in first. The researchers estimated congestion cost the U.S. $300 billion in 2016, an average of $1,400 per driver.


Following Los Angeles, where drivers spent an average 104 hours and 12.7 percent of their total drive time in traffic, came New York (89 hours and 12.8 percent) and San Francisco (83 hours and 12.8 percent).

The researchers also analyzed the economic implications of sitting bumper-to-bumper for hours on end, taking into account the costs related to the value of fuel and time wasted, as well as the cost of company vehicles idling in traffic, which impacts households through higher consumer prices.

According to their numbers, the average driver in Lost Angeles lost $2,408 to traffic, New Yorkers lost $2,533, and those in San Francisco lost $1,996. Costs to these cities ranged between $9.7 billion and $2.5 billion.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The authors of the study say heavy traffic is an indicator of a stable economy and low gas prices.

“Traffic truly is a double-edged sword,” wrote Bob Pishue, a senior economist at INRIX. “The demand for driving is expected to continue to rise, while the supply of roadway will remain flat.”

The firm hopes to use its data to improve driving conditions and make it so you, the driver, can spend less time on the road and more time enjoying your destination.

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