Every day brings a new Carmageddon in Los Angeles. The portmanteau was originally coined to describe a weekend in July 2012, when a section of 405 Freeway was closed for the massive widening project. The traffic catastrophe turned out not to be as bad as predicted, but the additional lanes of freeway did nothing to alleviate LA’s legendary traffic woes. In fact, one could argue they’ve only gotten worse. The City of Angeles held the dubious distinction of ranking No. 1 for traffic congestion in the entire world, according to the study released today.
According to a massive review of global traffic data by analytics firm INRIX, Los Angeles was the most gridlocked city in the world, with drivers spending 104 hours in congestion in 2016 during peak time periods. In LA, the car is king. Which is not to say that public transportation isn’t an option. Voters approved a sales tax increase to nearly double the city’s rail network for the two new light-rail lines opened last year in November. But service is spotty, delays frequent, and ridership numbers for continue to drop, year over year. The Metro is not seen as a viable alternative, which explains why they chose to fritter their time away in traffic for many Los Angelinos.
Not far behind LA was Moscow, where drivers spent an additional 91 hours in traffic, followed by New York City (89 hours), San Francisco (83 hours), and Bogota (80 hours). The US was the most crowded developed country in the world, with 11 cities in the top 25 and drivers contributing an average of 42 hours a year in traffic during peak hours. And congestion costs more than just your time it also hits you right in the wallet too. INRIX estimates the direct and indirect costs of gridlock in 2016 was $300 billion, an average of $1,400 per driver.
Based in Kirkland, Washington, INRIX studies traffic data, as well as builds apps for navigation, parking and other mobility services. Its researchers analyzed traffic data in 1,064 cities across 38 countries 500 Terabytes of data from 300 million different sources covering over 5 million miles of road which the firm debates is the largest study of congestion data ever done. It hopes it will be used by the Trump administration to inform its $1 trillion infrastructure plan if such a thing exists.
Gridlock has proved frustrating and economically destabilizing. But it can also lead to bad driving and even death. The roads in the US are deadlier than they’ve ever been, according to preliminary data. Almost 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, according to the National Safety Council. That marks a 6 percent increase over 2015, and a 14 percent increase over 2014 the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years.