An annual study from Texas A&M transportation institute says clogged roads cost Americans $121 billion in time and wasted fuel in 2011. That's more than $800 per person. On average, the study says Americans allow an hour of driving time for a trip that would take 20 minutes without traffic.
The study determined that the 10 most congested cities are, in order, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.
According to researchers, the average Houstonian wasted 23 gallons of gas sitting in traffic. They also found drivers in our area wasted more than two days a year on average in traffic congestion, costing them nearly $1,100 in lost time and gas.
People are flocking to the Houston area for cheaper real estate and operating costs and that puts more cars on our roads.
The county's planned toll projects on Highway 290 and I-45 should help reduce traffic jams, but more drivers are on the way. There are 4 million people in Harris County now and another million expected in the next 20 years.
Researchers said 2005 remains the worst year recorded for traffic congestion, but warn recent improvement may be directly related to the recession. As the economy picks up again, the study's authors warn, so might road congestion.
The report is one of the key tools used by experts to solve traffic problems, but the institute advises that every community has unique challenges and require different, multi-faceted approaches to solving congestion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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