Study Reveals Traffic in Major U.S. Cities Decreased 30 Percent in 2011

By Trevor Dorchies | May 24, 2012
The debate of which city having the worst traffic in the country has been going on ever since cars started being mass-produced. While cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Boston are notorious for stop-and-go traffic during rush hour (or any time of day, month, or year in Los Angeles for that matter), a recent study shows traffic congestion actually dropped 30 percent in 2011. This is good news to those who have to make the trek into an over-populated metropolis everyday but it doesn't come without some bad news too. According to a survey conducted by Inrix, a company that collects data on traffic, the reason for the decrease in congestion on the road can be attributed to unemployment being at record highs along with volatile fuel prices. Since people don't have jobs to go to, they're steering clear of the roads and for those who do have a job to get to, fuel prices have pinched them too. To no one's surprise, cities like Tampa and Houston, which saw the biggest bump in employment, also saw an increase in traffic congestion. Cities that are currently experiencing higher unemployment rates saw a drop in traffic congestion.
“In Houston, for example, fuel prices were 10 to 20 cents below the national average last year,” Jim Bak, co-author of the study told MSN Autos. “And they had a better-than-average employment picture. Then there are cities like Miami where fuel prices have been way above the national average, yet unemployment hasn’t gone down.” However, the study has no solid correlation as to why areas suffering from unemployment are paying more to fuel up. Bak does believe each has something to do with one another though. “What we’re seeing is that fuel prices are driving things in most markets,” Bak said to MSN Autos. “So even when hiring is good, fuel prices can keep growth down.” Source: MSN Autos