Chicago, IL

New study proves Chicago traffic is just as bad as you thought

Jennifer Geer

Chicago drivers spend over four days per year on the road

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Lake Shore Drive in ChicagoJonathan J. Castellon/Unsplash

It should come as no surprise to anyone driving around the Chicago area that the city is badly congested. Although New York City beat Chicago overall for "Most congested urban area in the U.S.", Chicago took the top in overall hours spent on the road.

In a study conducted by Inrix, Chicago drivers were found to spend over four days per year driving. The total time spent driving is 104 hours in Chicago, followed by New York at 102 hours.

Globally, Chicago ranked 6th city in the world for congestion. London was the first, followed by Paris.

The top 5 U.S. cities with the most congested roads:

  1. New York City (102 hours lost)
  2. Chicago (104 hours lost)
  3. Philadelphia (90 hours lost)
  4. Boston (78 hours lost)
  5. Miami (66 hours lost)

According to Inrix, traffic congestion is bad for all of America. The average driver in the U.S. spent 36 hours in 2021 commuting, which Inrix determined to be $564 in wasted time.

Overall congestion down since pre-pandemic levels

The numbers are down since the pandemic. A total of 63 hours less than pre-pandemic studies showed overall. And Chicago congestion is down by 28% from pre-Covid levels.

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX said in a press release,

“COVID-19’s impact on transportation has continued through 2021, transforming when, where and how people move. Although congestion climbed 28% this year, Americans still saved 63 hours compared to normal. The most notable change to commuting during the pandemic – other than reduced travel times and volumes – was the lack of downtown travel.”

Los Angeles took the honors of the most congested road in the U.S. with a particularly bad stretch of I-5 South costing 22-minute delays and a total of 89 hours lost.

Pishu told the Chicago Tribune that one reason why Chicago may be so high on this list is that Chicago's morning commute has rebounded from the pandemic, ahead of other U.S. cities.

How does the data from this study help?

Inrix said in a press release, "Access to reliable data is the first step in tackling congestion. Applying big data to create intelligent transportation systems is key to solving urban mobility problems. "

With Inrix's data and analysis on traffic patterns, city planners and engineers can use the information to make plans in reducing congestion and drive times in urban areas.

Visit Inrix's scorecard for all the details.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

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