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Report: More than ever, traffic jams waste time

Los Angeles tops list for drivers getting stuck fuming

A new study indicates that commuters in the United States are spending more time in traffic jams.  

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (CNN) -- Traffic jams in the United States are costing Americans $68 billion each year in wasted time and fuel, according to a new report.

Based on the analysis of 75 U.S. cities, the annual Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute finds the average rush-hour driver -- not just commuters, but all drivers -- wastes about 62 hours in traffic each year.

That's not total travel time, that's just the extra time spent going slow or going nowhere because of traffic congestion.

By several measures, the report found Los Angeles had the worst traffic. The report stated that the average Los Angeles rush-hour driver wasted 136 hours a year in slow or stopped traffic.

And the word is that Los Angeles has the worst traffic jams. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez shows how tough it can be. (June 20)

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A new study says Americans are spending more time than ever stuck in traffic. CNN's Natalie Pawelski reports (June 20)

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Honk if you're sick of gridlock: Click here for an interactive look at the top traffic-jam cities  from the new Urban Mobility Report.

The runner-up metro areas in this time-draining category: San Francisco, California; Washington; Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; San Jose, California; Dallas, Texas; New York; Atlanta, Georgia; and Miami, Florida.

The report also measured cities according to a Travel Time Index , which looked at how much slower a particular trip takes during rush hour compared with the same trip driven when traffic is flowing freely.

Los Angeles topped that list, too. The study said a rush hour trip in Los Angeles takes an average 90 percent longer than the same trip during a non-rush hour period. The runner-up metro areas in this category: San Francisco, California; Chicago; Washington; Seattle, Washington; Miami, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; San Jose, California; Denver, Colorado; and New York.

The study also found that rush hours are lasting longer. In 1982, the report found traffic was congested about 4.5 hours a day for the 75 cities studied. In 2000, traffic was congested an average of seven hours a day.

"All of this demand can't be handled in the (rush) hour like it used to be, so traffic spills over, trails over into other hours," said Tim Lomax, one of the report's lead authors.

"And that's spreading to more of the urbanized areas, so instead of just the area in the beltway being congested, it's a lot more than that now."

Lomax said roads and alternatives like public transportation and telecommuting aren't keeping pace with the increased number of miles people are driving, which is causing the congestion. In the average U.S. city, people traveled 85 percent more miles by car in the year 2000 than they did in 1982.

"There's a combination of factors -- the amount of people, the amount of roadway that is there," Lomax said. "It's sort of a supply demand relationship -- you can think of it that way. And there's a lot more demand than there is supply."


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