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June 2015

Seattle commuters may wonder: City's traffic only 5th worst in nation?

Seattle's traffic congestion ranks among the country's worst according to a recent study. The latest Traffic Index from TomTom, a navigation company that compares data for more than 200 cities around the world, indicates Seattle has the fifth worst traffic in the country and ranks No. 46 on the global list.

According to TomTom Traffic data, the evening rush hour is the most congested time of day on virtually every road network around the world. Nearly every city with the highest overall levels of congestion can expect to double their congestion level during the evening rush hour. Last year, the average commuter spent an extra 100 hours a year travelling during the evening rush hour alone.

Using 2014 data, TomTom's measurements indicate about 31 percent of the Seattle area is congested due to traffic. During the evening rush hour, that figure climbs to 74 percent, much higher than morning rush hour when it is 51 percent.

The city with the worst traffic in the world is Istanbul, followed by Mexico City. Los Angeles tops the list for U.S. cities, ranking 10th on the world list. (See chart.)

Seattle fared better than San Francisco, but is significantly worse than other cities with tech centers, putting it at a disadvantage when vying for talent. Austin ranked 86th and Boston was 94th.

Commenting on the findings and the impact of traffic on a worker's quality of life, one analyst noted employers could once set up wherever they pleased and workers would follow. "Now," said Steven Higashide, a program analyst for TransitCenter, a nonprofit that focuses on urban transportation, "times have changed."  Companies now follow workers, he explained, adding "Quality of life in the office city is crucial to recruiting workers."

TomTom gives drivers real-time traffic information and routing to avoid congested roads. The Amsterdam-based company works with businesses and governments to help measure the performance of a road network and offers ideas for improvements.

Although best known for its navigation and mapping products for managing congestion, TomTom also creates GPS Sport Watches, as well as state-of-the-art fleet management solutions and industry-leading location-based products. Its products are available in 46 countries.

TomTom Traffic Index - Overall Traffic Congestion Level  TomTom Traffic Index - Rush Hour

Top 10 Most Congested U.S. Cities

10Los Angeles39%60%80%36%42%
26San Francisco34%53%68%29%39%
45New York31%48%56%24%37%
51San José30%58%75%21%39%