You could spend $1400 to sit in traffic this year

Today’s post is courtesy of our newest contributor, Justin B.! Justin is a Tennessee native, world traveler, and second year graduate student at the University of South Carolina. Enjoy!
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Ever get the feeling that you spend more time sitting in the car going to and from work, stuck in traffic, alone in your car, than at home relaxing? Sadly, for many Americans, this is becoming more ubiquitous. Weather.com recently published a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute highlighting the cities with the worst traffic. As expected, many of these cities are on our very own, beloved East Coast: Philly, Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC.

The figures presented in the article are very common to our own gripes “How much longer will I be in this?!” or “I’m just sitting here wasting gasoline.” And the TAMU Transportation Institute decided to add in the cost of congestion per driver. I’m not going to go into all of them, but tied for 10th was Philly with 48 hours wasted in traffic, 23 extra gallons per driver, and a cost of $1018 per year. Numbers show that in the worst of the worst, Washington DC, drivers spent on average 67 hours, 32 extra gallons, and $1398 per year sitting in traffic!

While many of these people are regular, every-day commuters, each of these cities is a tourist attraction. With lots of everyday traffic involving those who live in the area and know exactly where they are going, the additional tourist traffic, through traffic, or “Sunday drivers” as we say in the South, doesn’t help anyone’s sanity. A better option for those visiting these cities would be to hitch a ride with someone who is already making the trip. And it turns out that many people are willing to do this, and interestingly, they are also willing to pay.

Riders are generally willing to pay around $20 for rides lasting a couple of hours. But this country is so big, where can you really get in a couple of hours? To put that in perspective, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, located on the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina, is the most visited park in the United States because it is within a half-day’s drive of nearly 2/3 of the US population.

We have seen from the driver side that many times, a few bucks here or a few bucks there doesn’t seem like a big deal. But check this out: if I were, say, driving from Atlanta to Charlotte on a weekly basis, I could take someone each direction for $20. This $40 each weekend for 52 weeks is roughly $2000! It would cover the gasoline charges to make the 3+ (almost 4) hour drive, and even offset some of the charges felt sitting in the traffic in Atlanta during the week.

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