The 18 Worst Traffic Cities in America

Some American cities are notorious for turning your daily commute into a crawl. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, these 18 cities will have you rethinking your route.

San Francisco, California

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San Francisco’s picturesque hills and iconic bridges come at a cost. The Golden Gate City’s narrow streets and limited parking make driving a nightmare and the tech boom has brought an influx of residents, adding more cars to already congested roads.

Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston’s old, winding roads weren’t designed for modern traffic volumes. Add in the famously aggressive local drivers, and you’ve got a recipe for road rage. And let’s not forget the maze of one-way streets and confusing intersections that seem to change direction when you least expect it. If you’re brave enough to drive in Boston, keep your cool and maybe consider investing in a good GPS.

Chicago, Illinois

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Chicago’s grid system might look straightforward on a map, but in reality it’s far from it. Congestion, especially during rush hours, can make driving feel like a constant battle in the Windy City.

Atlanta, Georgia

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Atlanta might be known for its Southern charm, but its traffic is anything but charming.  Atlanta’s sprawling suburbs and a lack of efficient public transportation have led to some of the worst congestion in the country. Rush hour can turn highways into parking lots and navigating the city’s vast network of roads often feels like a test of endurance and patience.

Houston, Texas

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Everything is bigger in Texas, including the traffic jams. The city’s rapid growth and sprawling layout contribute to its severe traffic issues, making commuting a daily struggle for many residents. And with constant construction and an ever-expanding population, traffic issues show no sign of letting up anytime soon.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia might be known for its rich history and delicious cheesesteaks, but it’s also infamous for its traffic. The combination of narrow streets, frequent construction, and a high volume of cars makes driving through Philly a daunting task. If you’re driving in Philly, expect delays and pack plenty of patience.

Dallas, Texas

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The expansive road network can’t keep up with the city’s growing population. Congestion on major routes like the LBJ Freeway and Central Expressway is a daily reality for commuters. Add in the frequent construction projects aimed at expanding the infrastructure, including sewage and water systems, and you’ve got a recipe for some serious delays.

San Diego, California

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San Diego might boast beautiful beaches and a near-perfect climate, but it also has some of the worst traffic in the country. The I-5 and I-805 are notorious for their daily gridlock, as the city’s services struggles to accommodate its population growth. Even the scenic coastal routes aren’t immune to backups, especially during peak tourist season.

Orlando, Florida

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With millions flocking to Disney World and Universal Studios, the city’s roads are continually jammed. The I-4, which cuts through the city, is particularly notorious for its constant congestion. Even outside of peak vacation times, Orlando’s roads are often packed, making any drive an unpredictable adventure.

Portland, Oregon

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Portland might be known for its eco-friendly ethos and bike-friendly streets, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to traffic. Rapid population growth has outpaced the city’s roads, leading to significant congestion, especially on the I-5 and I-84. The city’s many bridges also add to the frustration, turning what should be a quick trip into a lengthy ordeal.

Baltimore, Maryland

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Baltimore’s aging infrastructure and large population cause frequent jams on I-95 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Driving through the city’s historic but narrow streets adds to the daily challenge for drivers, and the constant roadwork aimed at repairing and updating the infrastructure doesn’t help, often turning commutes into slow crawls through the city.

Seattle, Washington

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Seattle’s scenic views are often marred by bumper-to-bumper traffic. The city’s unique topography and an increasing number of residents have turned commutes into lengthy, stressful nightmares. And let’s not forget the rain, which can make traffic even more challenging.

Washington, DC

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Our nation’s capital is notorious for its political gridlock, but it also suffers from actual traffic gridlock. The combination of daily commuters, tourists, and endless roadwork makes navigating DC’s streets seem like a Herculean task.

Los Angeles, California

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Whether you’re cruising down the 405 or stuck on the 101, gridlock is a way of life in the City of Angels. With its sprawling urban landscape and an ever-increasing population, LA’s traffic woes are unavoidable. Even with all the freeways, it’s not uncommon to spend hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic, especially during rush hour. If you’re planning to drive in LA, patience and a good playlist are essential.

New York City, New York

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The Big Apple is synonymous with hustle and bustle, and its traffic is no exception. Between the constant construction, taxi fleets, and an endless stream of tourists, getting from point A to point B can feel like an eternity. And let’s not forget the aggressive honking that’s practically a soundtrack to the city.

Miami, Florida

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The party might be non-stop in Miami, but so is the traffic. The city’s limited public transport options mean most people rely on cars, leading to frequent traffic jams, especially on the I-95 and Dolphin Expressway. The influx of tourists and snowbirds escaping colder climates only adds to the congestion. Combine that with the city’s unpredictable weather, and you’ve got a recipe for some serious traffic headaches. If you’re driving in Miami, be prepared for long waits and erratic driving behavior.

San Jose, California

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At the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose has seen a surge in traffic due to the tech industry boom. The influx of workers has led to packed highways and long commutes, with the 101 and 280 freeways often at a standstill.

Detroit, Michigan

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While Detroit’s population has decreased over the years, the city’s framework hasn’t adapted, leading to congestion on outdated roads. The annual influx of visitors for events like the North American International Auto Show only adds to the problem. Despite fewer residents, driving through Detroit can still be a time-consuming drudge.

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Amy Watkins

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