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What’s a Traffic Jam Worth?
November 3, 2011 @ 11:15 AM | By Jill Huselton

According to a recent study, the answer to this question is $100 billion. Yep, billion with a ‘b’. Crazy, right?

I’m sure we can all recall a time when we were stuck in a long line of traffic, due to weather, overturned semis or trains crossing a track, and thinking about all the other things we could be doing. (Actually, not to rub it in, but I have to think really hard since I’ve worked from home for the last three years. I know there were plenty of times in the past when I wanted to pull my hair out because no one was moving, but I think I've buried them.)


Based on a study of traffic and congestion, the time we spend waiting in traffic is getting worse and there’s no sign of improvement. By 2020, we’ll waste a whole work week trying to make sense of the vanity plate in front of us or wishing we had more coffee as we watch the cars go nowhere fast.

  • 1982: 14 hours/year/person
  • 1992: 28 hours/year/person
  • Today: 34 hours/year/person
  • 2015: predicted to be 37 hours/year/person
  • 2020: predicted to be 41 hours/year/person

Anyone trying to go anywhere in the most congested cities listed below can already tell you what it’s like to lose that work week to traffic. The study rated the cities around the U.S with the worst traffic and it isn’t pretty.

Most congested cities:

  • Metro DC: 74 hours/year/person
  • Chicago: 71 hours/year/person
  • LA: 64 hours/year/person
  • Houston: 57 hours/year/person
  • NY/NJ/CT: 54 hours/year/person
  • Baltimore: 52 hours/year/person
  • San Francisco: 50 hours/year/person
  • Denver: 49 hours/year/person
  • Boston: 47 hours/year/person
  • Dallas/Minneapolis: 45 hours/year/person

The old theory was to avoid rush hour and drive later in the day or at night. It seems that a lot of people have caught on because it is estimated that 40% of delays occur in mid-day and over night. There goes that idea.

So what can you do? It may not be feasible for you to work full-time from home, but how about a couple of days a week. That would cut your wasted time each year in half. Or, if you have to endure the sea of brake lights, make the most of it and plan your meetings during your travel time. It’s easy to join an audio conference call on the road with your mobile phone (hands free, of course). You can even join online meetings with apps for your phone or tablet.

What’s your strategy? If moving to South Dakota isn't an option, have you tried staying home or rearranging your schedule to take meetings on the road?

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

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Anusha Karnad

Thank you Jill for this lovely post, I have indeed attended a meeting call when I was travelling back home by our own Intercall services.


The number of motor vehicles is going up like a rocket that is speeding up to the orbit. The demand for wider roads is also gone up for the last few years. Most of the average families owing more than 1 vehicle today. The increasing number of vehicle make it difficult to move on the road and consume more time in traveling.

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Thanks for such a great article here. I was searching for something like this for quite a long time and at last I’ve found it on your blog.

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