The Top 5 Worst Rush Hours in the U.S.

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Sometimes the English language makes no sense. You drive on a parkway, park in a driveway, and rush hour? More like crawl hour. But which cities are the worst? Every year, Inrix drops the knowledge. This company analyzes real-time traffic information beamed to their number-crunchers straight from vehicles sitting on highways all over the country. Their annual report ranks cities in terms of overall traffic congestion, and tells you how many hours you lose in traffic every year if you’re unfortunate enough to live and work there.

5 New York City

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Unlike the other cities on this list, New York has a robust public transportation system that nearly half of its citizens use to get around the city. But the Big Apple’s population density—its 2,826 people per square mile in 2010 is the highest in the country—means even half of its population driving around is sure to cause major congestion. Add to that all the delivery trucks and vans, buses and taxicabs, and you’ve got perpetual gridlock.

4 Austin

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Austin is growing by leaps and bounds, with tech companies and other major employers pulling people to the metro area. Most of those people commute in their own cars, given the capital of the Lone Star State has no public transport other than buses. And given the city boasts local gas prices well below the national average, there’s no real demand for a more substantial subway system. Little wonder Austin’s rush hour gets slower with each passing year, eating up close to 40 hours of drivers’ time every year.

3 San Francisco

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The city with the third highest population density in the country also has the third highest level of traffic congestion—surprise, surprise. Unlike much of the United States, San Francisco has a strong economy and relatively low unemployment rates. Unfortunately, all those commuters are crammed onto increasingly crowded roadways that can’t be expanded due to the area’s hilly and limiting geography. All of this means your average Frisco driver spends 49 hours a year crawling through rush-hour congestion.

2 Honolulu

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Sure, the beaches may be a dream come true, but if you live and work in Honolulu, you know traffic’s more like a nightmare. The metropolitan area actually ranked worst in the country in 2011, but managed to improve slightly in 2012, according to Inrix. Well, either that or L.A. got that much worse. The biggest contributing factor to all this island gridlock is the fact that there’s really only one major highway— Interstate H-1—that goes from one side of Oahu to the other. At least you have beautiful views to distract you.

1 Los Angeles

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No surprise to Los Angelenos, Inrix finds this California city has the worst traffic congestion in the U.S. Inrix ranks the country’s worst roads as well, and half of those roads are in L.A., including L.A.’s worst freeway, the 405—where commuters spend close to an hour on any given Tuesday morning just to travel eight miles. L.A. has the second-highest population density in the country, and everyone drives—only around 6 percent of Los Angelenos take public transport. All those cars headed into— or out of—the city at virtually the same time is a recipe for catastrophic congestion.

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