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L.A.'s Traffic Is Not the Worst in the Nation... It's the 2nd Worst!

Photo by JoshMcConnell via Flickr
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The good news: Los Angeles doesn't have the absolute worst traffic in America. The bad news: Um, we have the second-worst traffic in America.

While we have no one but ourselves to blame for this second-place honor, we have the work of researchers at Texas A&M University and their Urban Mobility Report to thank.

For years (and years and years) Los Angeles ranked number one when it came to what the report calls Annual Delay. That figure, as the report explains means:

A yearly sum of all the per-trip delays for those persons who travel in the peak period (6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.). This measure illustrates the effect of the per-mile congestion as well as the length of each trip.
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The current report covers 1982 to 2011, and from 1982 to 2007, L.A. ranked first when it came to "Annual Delay." We've dropped to second place since, falling behind our nation's capital, Washington D.C.The report takes a look at how much time we spend--or waste--in traffic. One of the measurements is the Planning Time Index (PTI), which looks at how much extra time is needed to make it to "higher priority events," in our lives, which can range widely across the nation, from just a few extra minutes to three hours.

In L.A. the average driver in 2011 experienced a yearly delay of 61 hours, and an excess use of 27 gallons of gas. That's a lot of time, and money (and audio books).

Angelenos, don't be disheartened amidst all this cold hard bumper-to-bumper data. The report says traffic can be improved, it's just going to take a lot of work, innovation, support, funding, and flexibility. You know, the stuff Los Angeles really excels at. (Eye roll, deep sigh.)

Researchers say that the most effective way to address traffic congestion varies from one urban area to another, but that in all cases, a multi-faceted approach should be used, relying on more efficient traffic management and public transportation in addition to new construction. Travel options such as flexible work hours and telecommuting should also be part of the mix.

Good luck out there in the lanes, commuters!