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Gridlock to cost US$2.8 trillion

Study shows costs of traffic jams: In 2013 traffic congestion robbed the US economy of $124 billion


October 15, 2014
by Fleet Management Staff

151881-INFOKIRKLAND, Washington—Traffic is actually more detrimental to our wallets than our patience, a new study shows. In 2013, traffic congestion robbed the US economy of $124 billion. Without significant action to alleviate congestion, this cost is expected to increase 50 percent to $186 billion by 2030. The cumulative cost over the 17-year period is projected to be $2.8 trillion, the same amount Americans collectively paid in US taxes last year.

The new report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and INRIX, Inc., a provider of real-time traffic information, transportation analytics and connected driver services, is the first of its kind to quantify the direct impact on drivers in terms of wasted time and fuel as well as indirect costs to US households resulting from businesses passing these same costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.

“The report reveals an ominous forecast for the US if traffic continues to impede the flow of people and commerce to the degree is does today,” said Kevin Foreman, INRIX General Manager of GeoAnalytics. “As the economy grows and more people live in urban areas, greater demand is placed on our roads. Until we evolve our approach to how we manage our transportation networks, the individual and societal costs are only going to get worse.”

Other key findings of the research include:

  • The annual cost of traffic for each American household is $1,700 today. This cost is expected to rise approximately 33 percent to $2,300 in
    2030.
  • The monetary value of carbon emissions caused by vehicles idling in traffic in 2013 was $300 million. By 2030, this is expected to rise to $538 million, totaling $7.6 billion over the 17-year period.
  • As the city with the nation’s worst traffic, Los Angeles accounted for nearly 20 percent of the total cost of congestion in the US last year. Gridlock cost LA drivers $23.2 billion in 2013 and is forecasted to grow more than $15 billion to $38.4 billion in 2030.
  • Population and GDP growth are predicted to drive US increases in traffic congestion, as well as fuel costs and vehicles on the road.  The study predicts 281 million vehicles on US roads by 2030, an increase of 30 million.

“The key to deterring these cost predictions is developing long-term solutions that enable more efficient usage of our roads,” Foreman said. “This means creating greater connectivity among vehicles and engineering smarter cities to support this connectivity.”

INRIX, which collects real-time data from drivers and devices across four million miles of road in 40 countries, works with leading automakers—such as Ford, Toyota and BMW—and 40 state transportation departments to harness insights that inform intelligent transportation solutions. This INRIX data enables city and state governments to make smarter investment choices in road and transit improvements, informs transportation policy, and powers smart cities applications, including:

  • Multi-modal navigation services that inform consumers of the fastest mode of transportation to their destination and provide drivers with the
    ability to navigate the next closest bus or train departure to their destination when traffic or other delays prevent them from completing
    their trip by car on time.
  • Navigation services that help cities direct drivers to the closest available parking to their destination, least expensive gas station or
    available EV charging location quickly and safely.
  • Broad adoption of real-time analytics services at the city level thatcommunicate with in-car and smartphone navigation applications,
    intelligently route vehicles using all available roads and advanced signal timing systems that reduce delays and resulting emissions from
    stop and go driving.
  • Building the infrastructure to support autonomous vehicle technology that maximizes throughput by enabling vehicles to all travel at the same
    speed during peak times.

The report also examined the cost of traffic in the UK, France and Germany, and the most congested cities in each of these nations. INRIX and Cebr will be hosting a Webinar at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, October 16 where Cebr’s lead researcher and INRIX executives share the results of the study in greater detail as well as discuss the implications for industry and government in addressing this growing issue.