• Los Angeles comes in second place in a national report ranking longest commute times and worst individual roads.
  • Los Angeles commuters waste 80 per year in traffic, just behind DC's 82 hours.
  • The reports authors say that commute times and gasoline wasted from stop-and-go traffic will only continue to worsen.

If you live in the Los Angeles area and commute to work, you’re not imagining that you are spending more time behind the wheel.

Even though there’s solace in the fact that LA is not the worst in the country, it does come in second place, edged out by DC.

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, compiled by traffic information technology company INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Los Angeles commuters each waste about 80 hours per year simply stuck in traffic. That’s behind DC’s 82 hours, and just ahead of San Francisco’s 78 hours of misery.

But if Angelenos take pride in being no. 1, they can puff out their chests with this data point from the study: Out of the 25 worst individual stretches of highway in the US, LA dominates. LA freeways took 11 of the 25 worst spots for congestion, including the no. 1 road of misery: the southbound 101 Freeway from Woodland Hills to downtown LA.

Think the slide in gas prices is at least easing that pain? Guess again.

The report quantifies that, even though the price of gas has gradually descended in the past few years, we’re burning it up during increased, and increasing, traffic congestion.

And, the report said, drivers on just America’s top 10 worst roads waste on average 84 hours or 3.5 days a year on average in gridlock – twice the national average.

Americans drove more than 3 trillion miles in the last 12 months, says the US Department of Transportation. That’s a new record, eclipsing the 2007 peak. Travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours – 42 hours per rush-hour commuter.  

The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter.

If the economy keeps on humming, the report said, the traffic tension will continue. The authors of the report suggest that there won’t be a quick fix for this growing problem. More roadway and transit investment is needed, but added capacity alone can’t solve congestion problems.

Solutions must involve a variety of initiatives, including new construction, more efficiency and transportation options. Flexible work schedules are suggested as well.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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