America’s Congested Cities: A Reflection of Economic Activity

TomTom’s Traffic Index Reveals the Top 10 U.S. Cities with the Worst Traffic

As the saying goes, time is money. And for many Americans, time spent stuck in traffic is an unfortunate reality of daily life. The United States is home to some of the most congested cities in the world, with commuters enduring long hours on the road, battling through gridlock and frustration. However, experts argue that this congestion is not necessarily a negative sign, but rather an indicator of a thriving economy. In January, geolocation technology specialist TomTom released its annual Traffic Index for 2023, shedding light on the U.S. cities with the worst traffic. Among the findings, California emerged as a state with two cities ranking in the top 10: San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Economic Perspective on Congestion

While sitting in traffic may be a source of frustration for many, economists argue that congestion can actually be seen as a positive sign. The logic behind this perspective lies in the idea that heavy traffic is a reflection of a vibrant economy. When people are out and about, stuck in traffic, it often means they are engaging in economic activities such as commuting to work, shopping, or dining out. This increased activity indicates a higher level of consumer spending, which in turn drives economic growth. Therefore, the presence of congestion can be viewed as a testament to a city’s economic vitality.

TomTom’s Traffic Index: Methodology and Findings

To determine the cities with the worst traffic in the United States, TomTom utilized a comprehensive methodology. The index considered factors such as travel time, cost, and CO2 emissions per mile driven. Additionally, the study simulated the time it takes to complete a six-mile trip within each city for electric vehicles, petrol cars, and diesel cars. The results revealed the following:

1. San Francisco: Topping the list, San Francisco claimed the unenviable title of the city with the worst traffic in the United States. With its hilly terrain and limited road infrastructure, the Bay Area city faced significant congestion challenges. The high population density, coupled with a thriving tech industry, contributed to the gridlock experienced by commuters.

See also  US Navy Pulls World's Largest Warship Back to the United States Amid Global Force Reevaluation

2. New York City: Known for its bustling streets and iconic yellow taxis, New York City secured the second spot on the list. The city’s dense population and reliance on public transportation, combined with ongoing construction projects, contribute to the daily traffic woes experienced by residents and visitors alike.

3. Los Angeles: Often associated with notorious traffic congestion, Los Angeles ranked third in the TomTom Traffic Index. The sprawling nature of the city, coupled with a car-centric culture and limited public transportation options, contribute to the gridlock experienced by Angelenos. Despite its reputation, Los Angeles actually fared better than expected, securing the ninth spot in the top 10.

California’s Double Trouble

California emerged as the only state with two cities ranking in the top 10 of TomTom’s Traffic Index. San Francisco claimed the top spot, while Los Angeles secured the ninth position. This double trouble showcases the significant traffic challenges faced by the Golden State. The combination of population density, limited road infrastructure, and a thriving tech industry in San Francisco, along with the sprawling nature of Los Angeles, creates a perfect storm for congestion.


While sitting in traffic may be a frustrating experience, experts argue that congestion can be viewed as a positive sign of a thriving economy. The presence of heavy traffic indicates increased economic activity, with people out and about, spending money and driving growth. TomTom’s Traffic Index for 2023 highlighted the cities in the United States with the worst traffic, with San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles claiming the top spots. California, with its unique combination of population density and limited road infrastructure, faced double trouble, with both San Francisco and Los Angeles ranking in the top 10. As cities continue to grapple with congestion, innovative solutions and investments in transportation infrastructure are crucial to alleviate traffic woes and support economic growth.

See also  Ukraine's Struggle to Convey the Reality of the War