Personal Finance

Commuters waste a full week in traffic each year

Commuters waste a full week in traffic each year
Commuters waste a full week in traffic each year

Don't read this story if you're stuck in traffic. It will only lead to road rage.

The average commuter wasted 42 hours — more than a typical work week — and $960 last year snarled in traffic, according to a recent study from the Auto Insurance Center, an insurance information website.

That's just the average. Commuters in large metropolitan areas, especially Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles, had it far worse.

Commuters in the nation's capital had nearly double the traffic costs last year, spending an average of $1,834. New York area commuters paid $1,739, while L.A. drivers spent $1,711.

Four of the 10 counties with the longest morning drives are in New York. By region, commuters in the Northeast corridor lost the most hours to traffic.

Drivers in D.C. sat for an average of 82 hours in traffic last year, New York City commuters spent 74 hours, and Boston drivers waited 64 hours. Though not to be outdone, the typical L.A. commuter wasted 78 hours in traffic.

The Auto Insurance Center analyzed traffic data from INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, as well as figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Energy Information Service, to determine its findings.

The center found the dollar cost of congestion by calculating the value of travel time delay, estimated at $17.67 per hour, and excess fuel consumption using state average cost per gallon of gasoline.

While these numbers seem squishy, the Auto Insurance Center may be underestimating the costs of sitting in traffic. Cutting out a daily hour-long commute each way is the equivalent of earning an extra $40,000 a year, according to a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Think about that the next time you're waiting for the car in front of you to move.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the wrong name for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.