North America’s Most Congested Cities

With population growth on the rise, many urban areas are growing faster than their city’s infrastructure and transportation networks. Last year the world’s population exceeded seven billion people and many large cities are already encountering overcrowding on public transit, increased pollution levels, and longer traffic delays.

The GPS manufacturer, Tom Tom, published its latest Congestion Index, which measures congestion as a percentage difference when compared to free-flow traffic.  This percentage indicates how much longer it will take to travel through the city with the normal amount of traffic than if there were no vehicles or congestion on the road.

North American congestion is rated at 20%. This week, we’ll review the top 5 congested cities in North America.


5. Tampa, Florida – 25% Congestion Index

Tampa is tied with Seattle for congestion index, but has slightly lighter congestion overall. According to the report, Tampa’s congestion increased from last year’s sixth position. The commuter traffic in the morning is fairly low at 31% in comparison to the afternoon commute at 59%. About 30 minutes is spent in traffic during one hour in peak periods.

4. Seattle, Washington – 25% Congestion Index

Seattle is tied in fourth place with a congestion index of 25%. This has risen 4% since the last year where it was ranked as #12. Seattle drivers spend about 84 hours in traffic jams or about 3.5 days. During peak periods, drivers spent 35 minutes of one hour in traffic.

3. Miami, Florida – 26% Congestion Index

Miami’s congestion has been increasing over time. Last year, congestion was ranked at 24% and has increased to 26%. For every hour on the road in peak periods, nearly 30 minutes are spent wasted in traffic. However, congestion would be a lot worse within Miami if not for the highways. There is only 12% congestion on highways, while 37% on local and arterial roads.

2. Vancouver, British Columbia – 30% Congestion Index

Although Toronto has a larger population, Vancouver is ranked as the most congested Canadian city two years in a row by Tom Tom. Drivers spend 83 hours annually waiting in traffic and 35 minutes of every hour (in rush hour) is spent in traffic. As with Miami, congestion levels are worse on local and arterial roads than on highways.

1. Los Angeles, California – 33% Congestion Index

Residents of Los Angeles are well aware about the traffic nightmares that can come about on the city’s roads. The city that came up with the well-deserved nickname, “Carmageddon”, has the highest congestion index at 33%. Drivers spend about 92 hours sitting in traffic annually and for every hour spent on the road in rush hour traffic; about 40 of those minutes are spent sitting in traffic.


Traffic Studies to Improve Congestion

Congestion will always be present in a city in a manner of speaking. Construction, car crashes, road closures have an impact on congestion levels in a given area, especially if it’s during peak travel periods in urban locations.

However, cities are able to make the most of their transportation networks by understanding the current usage and future needs of arterial roads and major highways. Various traffic studies can be executed to better understand where infrastructure dollars can be spent to make the network as efficient and effective as possible.

Average Daily Traffic (ADT) studies and Turning Movement Counts (TMC) can be utilized to understand the total volume as well as the traffic movements on a given roadway or intersection. This can be applied to signal timing, construction, road expansion and other transportation planning.

Origin Destination and Travel Time studies can be applied to understand the most heavily travelled routes and the amount of time it takes to travel to a destination point. This can be applied to construction and infrastructure expansion projects in order to alleviate congestion and improve overall traffic flow.


Automating Traffic Studies

Miovision provides the ability to execute all of these traffic studies and more using an automated process. Collect traffic movements, volumes and time-stamped license plate data using Miovision’s data collection solutions that can be applied to planning-level and operational-level transportation projects.

You’ll receive accurate data in a fast turnaround time which will allow you to save time and cost. These savings can lower your bottom line or can be allocated to expand your data collection programs.