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10 Worst Cities for Traffic

Is your community on the list?

En español | If you feel like you've been spending more teeth-gnashing time than ever in your car, you're probably right — driving time nationwide jumped 10 percent last year.

See also: Most dangerous cities for driving.

Congested traffic

Photo by Getty Images

Is gridlock a problem in your city?

The fourth annual National Traffic Scorecard released by INRIX, a leading provider of traffic information and services, shows that congestion grew in 2010 because of a combination of the country's burgeoning population and the rebounding economy. Now, Americans traveling the worst traffic corridors spend up to 80 extra hours a year in their car during their afternoon commute alone.

According to the scorecard, 70 of the 100 most populated U.S. cities saw a bump in traffic. And fasten your seat belt: If the jobless rate falls to 7 percent by 2012, as some economists expect, the newly employed will make 9 million more daily commuting trips, adding to the gridlock.

Most Congested Cities
Here's a list of the 10 most congested cities in the United States, based on an analysis of traffic on major highways in the 100 largest metropolitan areas. These cities account for more than half of U.S. traffic bottlenecks.

Worst Time of Day to Drive  
1. Los Angeles
Thursday — 5:30 p.m.   
2. New York
Friday — 5:15 p.m.
3. Chicago
Friday — 5:15 p.m.   
4. Washington, D.C.
Thursday — 5:30 p.m.
5. Dallas
Friday — 5:15 p.m.
6. San Francisco
Thursday — 5:30 p.m.   
7. Houston            
Friday — 5:15 p.m.
8. Boston Friday — 5:30 p.m.
9. Philadelphia Friday — 5:15 p.m.
10. Seattle     
Thursday — 5:15 p.m.

Next: Traffic's bests and worsts. >>

INRIX's tip to drivers? Know before you go.

The afternoon rush hours on Thursdays and Fridays are generally the most congested. If you're flexible, keep the following best and worst commuting days and times in mind before pulling out of your driveway:

Worst traffic day: Thursday

Best weekday for traffic: Monday

Worst weekday morning: Tuesday

Best weekday morning: Friday

Worst commuting hour: Friday, 5 to 6 p.m.

Best commuting hour: Friday, 6 to 7 a.m.

Worst evening commute: Friday

Best evening commute:

Still, even if you can't plan ahead, a number of resources from MapQuest to iPhone and Android phone traffic apps can help you. With real-time information on congested roads in your area, you'll likely spend less time sitting bumper to bumper and more time doing what you set out in your car to do in the first place.

Next: How bad is it really on the L.A. freeways? >>

If you live in Los Angeles, you won’t be surprised that it has five of the 10 worst rush hour traffic corridors in the United States.

  • 20-mile stretch of the Riverside Freeway/Calif. 91 eastbound, from the Calif. 55/Costa Mesa Freeway Interchange to the McKinley Street exit. Average trip: 20 minutes. Average during peak rush hour: 57 minutes.
  • 13-mile stretch of the San Diego Freeway/Interstate 405 northbound, from Interstate 105/Imperial Highway Interchange through the Getty Center Drive exit. Average trip: 13 minutes. Average during peak rush hour: 41 minutes.
  • 15-mile stretch of the Santa Monica Freeway/Interstate 10 eastbound, from Calif. 1/Lincoln Boulevard exit to Alameda Street. Average trip: 14 minutes. Average during peak rush hour: 42 minutes.
  • 17.5-mile stretch of Interstate 5 southbound (Santa Ana/Golden Street Freeways), from East Cesar Chavez Avenue to Valley View Avenue exits. Average trip: 15 minutes. Average during peak rush hour: 45 minutes.
  • 13-mile stretch of the San Bernadino Freeway/Interstate 10 eastbound, from City Terrace/Herbert Avenue to Baldwin Park Boulevard. Average trip: 17 minutes. Average during peak rush hour: 37 minutes.

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