More companies are returning to in-person work, which means many people are driving to and from an office again. As more commuters hit the road again, Insurify compiled a list of the worst cities for commuters in 2022. Here’s what you need to know from their findings:
How the worst cities for commuters are measured
The worst cities for commuters are determined using both public and proprietary data. Driver safety, traffic congestion levels, and commute time are all used to determine commute difficulty. The average commute time data is taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That survey considers full-time workers over 16 who do not work from home. The longer time it takes for commuters, the greater the difficulty during rush hour.
Insurify then uses data from 4.6 million car insurance applications to calculate how many drivers in a city have violations on their driving records. The higher number of average violations, the higher the Commute Difficulty Score.
Information from automotive analytics group INRIX’s Global Traffic Scorecard is also used to determine the worst cities for rush hour. It shows how many hours drivers lose in congestion during rush hour compared to free-flow conditions.
Nine states were not included due to insufficient data: Wyoming, West Virginia, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Alaska, and Vermont.
The average commute time is 27.6 minutes each way, and 9.8% report spending at least an hour commuting each way. Commuters in the country lose an average of 39 hours per year due to rush hour traffic congestion.
The data shows eight cities have commutes more than 30 minutes long each way. Here’s how they rank:
1. Antioch, California (46.4 minutes)
The San Francisco Bay Area suburb is the worst city for commuters by a decent margin. Antioch – located roughly 45 miles east of San Francisco – is home to more than 115,000 people. And many commuters have a rough rush hour each way: data shows 34.9% of Antioch residents travel more than an hour in each direction. That’s the highest number in the country. In Insurify’s overall worst commute rankings, Antioch comes in second thanks to these high numbers.
2. New York City, New York (41.4 minutes)
The largest city in the U.S. is also one of the worst cities for rush hour traffic. Though Antioch has it beat by average commute time, New York City’s average commute time is 50% higher than the national average. Overall, Insurify ranks it the worst commute in America and three times as bad as the national average. More than a quarter (26.9%) of residents spend an hour commuting each way to work.
3. Manassas, Virginia (35.8 minutes)
Located just over 30 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., Manassas commuters face some of the worst rush hour times in the country. The commute time each way is 30% higher than the national average and means the city of 41,000 residents has the 10th-worst overall commute difficulty, according to Insurify.
4. Chicago, Illinois (34.7 minutes)
The third-biggest city in the U.S. by population is another rough area for commuters. Chicago’s commute time is 25.7% higher than the national average. Overall, Chicago has ranked third-worst city for commuters thanks to tough marks in driving violation rates, the share of drivers with hour-long commuters or longer, and total hours lost in congestion. The overall commute difficulty score of 76.4 is more than double the national average.
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (33.4 minutes)
Like Chicago, Philadelphia has a lousy time for commuters. However, according to the data, it’s only 5.8 minutes longer each way, which adds up to more than 50 hours spent in rush hour every year. Philadelphia overall is the fourth-worst city in the U.S. in commute difficulty]. Like Chicago and New York, the other factors outside of commute time score poorly from Insurify’s data.
6. Frederick, Maryland (32.1 minutes)
Frederick’s 71,000 residents are 50 miles west of Baltimore and face a long commute to work each way. Time itself seems to be the worst of it, as Frederick ranks 11th in overall commute difficulty.
7. Boston, Massachusetts, and Surprise, Arizona (30.7 minutes)
The two cities tied for seventh are tough on commuters in different ways. Residents have commutes 11.2% longer than the national average. Surprise – a city on the northwest edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area – has a high commute time, but that also looks to be the worst of it.
Surprise is not in the top 20 worst cities for commuters in Insurify’s rankings. In contrast, Boston is home to more than 650,000 people and ranks ninth among the worst cities for commuters. The overall commute difficulty there (51.8) is more than twice as bad as the national average (21.9).
8. Tacoma, Washington (30.5 minutes)
Tacoma’s 215,000 residents are 35 miles south of Seattle, and commuters face a longer than average commute time. But like Surprise, the other factors in Insurify’s overall ranking system are not as bad. Tacoma is not in the 20 worst cities for commuters.
How you can make a long commute more bearable
If you happen to be in one of those cities or have a long commute in general, HR consulting firm Robert Half has some ways to make rush hour a little bit easier.
First off: leave 15 minutes earlier. If you spend lots of time commuting, you don’t need the stress of whether or not you’ll make it to work on time. That stress can take a toll over time. Leaving 15 minutes earlier can help alleviate stress by knowing you’ll be there on time.
While commuting, Robert Half suggests you avoid turning your commute into a drag race. Constantly speeding around and weaving through lanes may seem like it’s making a difference. But the wear on your nerves and your car for a few minutes of extra time is not worth it.
Be strategic in planning your commute. This could mean planning your days off when rush hour is worse to save more time. Or joining a fitness center near your work to spend time there instead of getting stuck in rush hour traffic. The commute may be much shorter when you’re ready to head home.
Tailor your environment for your commute. The right music or podcast could make it a more bearable time. Robert Half even mentions some commuters spending the time in rush hour checking in on family or friends. That can mean the hours spent by commuters in the worst cities can be more productive personally.
Robert Half suggests packing snacks if it’s early in the morning or a while since you’ve eaten. That way, you can get a pick-me-up before heading into the office or workplace.
If you can, leave your car at home. Taking public transportation can lessen the stress of driving during rush hour. You can take that time to catch up on work ahead of coming in or relax with a book and some deep breathing.
Robert Half also recommends minimizing screen-staring. If you are going into an office every day for work, you will likely be staring at a computer screen for hours. Try reading or listening to music or a podcast instead if you’re taking public transportation. That way, you’re not staring at a screen for a while before you will work for hours.