Houston traffic: You'll cringe when you read how much time, money we spend sitting in it

Commuters in our region wasted 75 hours in traffic in 2017, report finds

Stock image: Aayush Srivastava/Pexels
Stock image: Aayush Srivastava/Pexels

HOUSTON – Houston traffic: Could be better, could be worse. Right?

That’s certainly what the numbers show if you look at this Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. (In case you’re thinking, “It could be worse? How?” Just know that we’ll get to that in a minute, once we let you in on some numbers).

These numbers are from 2017, it’s worth noting, but they still make for some interesting notes and comparisons. For example, let's get into specifics.

How does Houston traffic stack up vs. conditions in Dallas?

If you mouse over the map, the data says each commuter in Houston wasted 75 hours sitting in traffic -- again, in 2017. Eighty hours would mark two full work weeks for most people, so to assume anyone spent 75 hours stuck in traffic -- well, not the best feeling.

Each commuter in Dallas wasted 67 hours for the year.

If you click on the dots showing each city on that map, you can learn more, and you should, if you’re curious. This data doesn’t leave much to be desired. There’s a lot to digest.

For example, if you’re wondering about when the congestion takes place, in Houston, it’s between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. on most weekdays. The numbers even dive into where exactly the delays are taking place: the largest percentage, 40.9% of Houston’s backups, happen during peak hours on the freeway, as opposed to on surface streets.


This is just an image, but if you go to that website, you can get a better look into the data and what it all means.

Houston came in seventh in the category “delay national rank.”

The annual congestion cost for Houston is more than $4.5 million. That number accounts for “the value of travel delay per person, and truck and excess fuel consumption estimated using state average cost per gallon.”

Houston commuters spend about $1,376 apiece and waste 31 gallons of gas a year because of traffic delays, researchers estimated.

In Dallas, the city’s congestion happens largely in that 4 to 5 p.m. slot on weekdays, similarly to Houston. It’s also taking place during peak hours on the freeway.


Dallas makes the list at No. 9 in "delay national rank" and the annual congestion cost is more than $4.1 million.

In a lot of ways, the two cities really aren’t that different when you look at the numbers side by side.

Wait, remember when you said ‘could be worse’? Tell me more

Commuters in Los Angeles are likely the most miserable, as LA topped this list -- wasting an average of 119 hours a year.

People in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. wasted 103 and 102 hours, respectively.

For what it’s worth, New York commuters wasted 92 hours, the study said. In Atlanta, that number was 77, Chicago came in at 73 and Miami at 69 hours.

You can even toggle the map …

And zoom in on some smaller regions, as well, once you’re all filled in on the major cities.

Each commuter in the ____ area wasted ____ hours:

Galveston, 13.
Texas City, 17.
Lake Jackson 19.
Port Arthur, 23.
Conroe, 29.
Victoria, 29.
College Station, 32.

Finally, check out the data on these cities, again, just for comparison. Interesting stuff!


If you have a job with flexible hours, maybe now you have some times in mind when you'll know to stay off the roads, if possible. Or perhaps that was obvious already. Maybe before this report, you were thinking, "We must have the worst traffic of anywhere in the country!"

Just be glad you're not in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Plan those commutes accordingly!

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