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None of us are strangers to the occasional traffic jam, especially in the city. But as the population continues to grow, congestion levels are only getting worse. Unless we adapt our infrastructure accordingly, cities will gradually become less livable, causing time-consuming inconveniences, accelerating air pollution, and compromising road safety.
To understand rising congestion levels in the US, our data experts conducted research into ten mid-sized cities with populations ranging from 390,000 to 500,000. Based on vehicle speeds and times with free-flowing traffic, we can unveil that an average journey is 27.5% longer due to today’s congestion levels.
Our findings come from Wejo’s Historic Traffic Patterns, a traffic intelligence solution with 95% coverage across US Road Infrastructure. With it we evaluated travel times based on the results of 5.16 billion data points from over 19.6 million journeys across the ten cities. When compared with the fact that the population of US metro areas grew by 9% between 2010 and 2020 (US Census 2020), we can see an issue that must be addressed.
“Driving into daily congestion causes loss of time, leading to decreased inefficiencies, increases in emissions, and risk of accidents posing greater risks on both our environment and our safety,” said Sarah Larner, Wejo’s Executive Vice President of Strategy & Innovation.
Let’s take a closer look at the cities we analyzed and how their journey lengths compare:
In Miami, Florida, where congestion levels were the highest, the I95/I395 junction and State Road 1 experienced the most traffic. We also found that traveling after 6 PM on Thursday evenings could save drivers up to four hours per year for a 30-minute commute.
Meanwhile, Tulsa, Oklahoma, is the least-congested city of the ten assessed.
Only with clear insights like the this can cities prioritize the areas and roads that require intervention to ease congestion and reduce daily journey lengths.
Sarah Larner adds, “Through this data, DoTs can identify roads with the most time lost due to congestion and evaluate vehicle volumes, road class, and road segment length to make infrastructure investment decisions to improve road traffic and safety. Drivers should also be mindful of the more dangerous and congested road segments to better plan and modify routes for daily commutes.”
With more granular data, city planners and civil engineers can go straight to the source of congestion for rich insights, from how entire cities move, to what times they experience the most congestion.
Wejo’s findings from the ten mid-sized cities analyzed also revealed heavier congestion during the evening rush. Journeys from 4–7 PM are 1–11% longer than journeys from 7–10 AM. And the city with the most significant journey-length increase from morning to evening is Atlanta, Georgia (11%).
Effective traffic analysis is traditionally a costly, time-consuming, and sometimes even dangerous process for researchers. Connected vehicle data is changing this. When harnessed effectively, it delivers rapid and actionable insights in real time, helping DoTs allocate infrastructure investment where it’s needed most.
To check out our dataset in even more detail, download it for free by completing the form below.