• Sep 19, 2007

Here's a news flash: traffic is a huge waste of time for commuters mired in rush hour gridlock. A recent study by the Texas Travel Institute unearthed some startling statistics concerning traffic, and everybody, including state and local governments, is paying huge.

On average, drivers spend 38 hours per year in traffic, which translates into 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel. If you live in L.A., 72 hours per year are thrown out the window as a result of congestion. Due to the strain that 2.9 billion additional gallons of gasoline puts on the volatile refinery market and all the lost revenue caused by the delays, about $78 billion goes down the drain each year.

The study puts much of the blame on an infrastructure that hasn't grown much over 50 years, even as the amount of drivers on the road has exploded. Commuters are also putting more distance between themselves and their typical destination. It'd be a welcome sight for our government to spend as much energy increasing the bandwidth of our roads as it does imposing challenging fuel economy standards on automakers. The economy could use the extra jobs created by the needed construction work, and our environment could use a break from all the carbon coming from drivers with their foot on their brake.

[Source: CNN Money]


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  • 18 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hamsters will be hamsters!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Andthe point is? We also lost a week looking for keys and a year taking a crap. This is the stuff of life.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Umm, how about an investment in light rail and other forms of public transportation. My time commuting by train was not a waste as I was able to read and do other tasks while someone else did the "driving."

      Looking at the extreme network of highways in L.A., adding lanes doesn't seem to reduce traffic much.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The layout of most U.S. cities is not conducive to public transportation. Sorry. Suburbs, sprawl, and decentralized business districts mean too many people have too many routes for public transportation to cover in a way that effectively competes with personal vehicles.

        Take Austin, TX. I live ten miles from downtown. With no traffic, I can get from home to work in fifteen minutes. With traffic, more like 35 minutes. If I wanted to do public transportation, I'd have to drive four of those miles to the nearest park and ride, and then take three different buses to get within walking distance of my office. Which, from my experience taking the UT shuttles, would take about two hours.

        Sorry, time wasted is time wasted. And I'd rather waste 45 minutes out of my day in my own car than waste four hours a day with public transit.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah but you're assuming that people aren't using their driving commute the same way.

        A sampling of things I've seen drivers doing when I used to have a car:

        -Reading the Bible on the steering wheel (he's gonna need it for that eventual accident anyway)
        -Reading the newspaper (perfectly folded up like on a subway too)
        -Playing a Gameboy

        Mind you, all these things were splayed open on the steering wheel. One winner was driving with his arms through the steering wheel and holding the book up against the dash with his hands, while driving in light traffic.

        Nowadays I live in NYC and walk to work. Exercise and no pollution.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's all relative... I'd rather waste 72 hours sitting in a Corvette than waste 72 hours driving a Corolla.

      ;)
      • 7 Years Ago
      jesus has it right.

      we have enough roads, and even those we have aren't being maintained. I love to drive....for fun. I HATE my commute. Yeah, we all have houses and jobs all sprawled out after 50 years of decentralization of our cities. Fair enough.

      However, I do feel that for commute purposes, it makes a lot of sense to use mass transit. And honestly, mass transit even in the best US cities, is pretty pathetic. If we put limits on sprawl, densened up the land we do occupy, and spent just as much on world-class transit as we do on roads, we'd have a lot more options.

      But the beauty of the US is that we do get to choose. Uncontrolled sprawl is probably something we should stop, but beyond that, options for folks should be the best approach. Fast trains. Well maintained roads.

      Additional capacity just creates more traffic. Without limits on sprawl, people just keep moving further out, cause the new roads allow them to get to/from even faster. They get clogged and we expand again, just to have them clogged again. It doesn't work. Even if we made our cities nothing but giant freeways they'd still be jammed with out other options (not to mention terrible places to actually live with freeways cutting all across the landscape).

      Its time to maintain what we have and invest in world class transit so those who want options can have them. Yeah we can live closer to work, or only take jobs closer to our houses. But I think most of us would also much rather take great mass transit, save time money and stress, and save the car for a little fun on the weekend. And even if you don't wanna use transit, you can still drive. But hopefully the roads will be a bit less crowded and in a bit better condition.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Who cares? It is what it is. If we choose to live in a big city it's part of the territory.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Rather than make the pipeline bigger (wider roads, more of 'em)...Why not make the vehicle footprint smaller? (more people per vehicle, smaller vehicles/motorcycles, etc)

      Smaller vehicles (or several people per) reduces the congestion - traffic flow more smoothly, road wear/tear is lessened...etc.

      Even better are those suggestions to telecommute or walk/ride a bicycle.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Make sure the candy dish is full.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's simple, fiber to the home and woking from home would greatly reduce the white collar workforces need to commute.

      There are alot of jobs that you can do just as easily from home with a connection and even a webcam to the office. The solution is to take people off the roads instead of trying to build more of them.

      Of course expansion of mass transit would help. The reason people live farther from work is most don't want of can't afford to live near the citys they work in.
        • 7 Years Ago
        This. Telecommuting and staggering office hours could cut some serious congestion out of the roadways.
      • 7 Years Ago
      72 hours per year!

      Man!
      I used to commute around Boston and spent a minimum of 10 hours in the car each week.

      Times 48 weeks of working each year, that's 480 hours. No wonder I'm divorced!

      Though maybe more hours in traffic would have helped.
      • 7 Years Ago
      guess that means I spend a week riding my motorcycle around. time well spent!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Traffic sucks and traffic from construction is worse.

      Yet instead of complaining I occupy myself.

      Plus if I ever have a traffic melt-down I can always move to the country.
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