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LA traffic by the numbers: congestion can cost Angelenos about $2,400 a year, study finds

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Traffic moves slowly on the 110 Freeway during afternoon rush hour in downtown Los Angeles on May 6, 2015.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Traffic moves slowly on the 110 Freeway during afternoon rush hour in downtown Los Angeles on May 6, 2015.

What's the price of being stuck in traffic? A new study breaks down Los Angeles gridlock by the numbers.

Allow us to set a scene for you. It's 4:55 pm and you've wrapped up your day at work. You get in your car and flip through your radio dial, then you hear this:

"The typical driver in the Los Angeles urban area spent 104 hours in traffic congestion last year."


That's according to Bob Pishue he's a senior economist and co-author of the global traffic scorecard study by INRIX, a software and data service company.

Their 2016 global traffic scorecard puts L.A. at number one, top of the list!


No. Number on in traffic congestion on a global scale. Okay so sure... L.A. traffic is a nightmare, but 104 hours out of the year means the average Angeleno spent 4 days plus eight hours stuck in traffic. How can that be?

"The 104 hours spent in congestion is based off of peak, both on highways and on city streets. But the full report looks at other things too, so congestion during the day, congestion at night. San Francisco for example has more congestion on city streets during the peak period than L.A. does, but New York has lower congestion on freeways than L.A. So it was really comparing some of the top cities and seeing how the transportation network functions in those areas."


Pishue explained the traffic scorecard comes together by sifting through terabytes of data...

"INRIX receives GPS data from over 300 million connected cars and devices. We cover over 500 million miles of road worldwide so, we're able to take a look at what's going on and see how the transportation network works in all of these cities."

So, once all of that information was gathered, Los Angeles came out on top in terms of gridlock, but what kinds of implications does that have economically?

"For L.A. it cost drivers a little bit more than $2,400 dollars last year in lost time, lost fuel from sitting in congestion as well as as the social cost of carbon emissions for direct costs. And indirect costs that are passed onto them in the form of higher prices for goods and services when freight trucks are stuck in traffic and can't get to the port, for example."

And while this study has been conducted annually for some time now, the methodology for 2016 was brand new.

""We wanted to take a look at the entire transportation network, so not just congested roads to get a more accurate and driver focused look at what's going on in L.A. to better represent the typical trip, whether its a business trip during the day or freight during the day or trips at night, for example."

While it all may sound like doom and gloom for those of us living in the L.A. area, that wasn't the intent of those who were behind the study.

"It's really to look at congestion in a new way, in an interesting way and be apart of the conversation when it comes to alleviating traffic congestion."

To listen to the segment, click the blue play button above.

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