The Worst U.S. City to Drive in Isn’t in the Contiguous United States

by Gabrielle DeSantis

For those who venture onto U.S. roadways for work or leisure, driving conditions can be frustrating. But some American cities have reputations for being the worst places to drive. In fact, the worst city of all can be downright maddening. And surprisingly, it isn’t a big metropolitan area. Avoid this traffic and car safety nightmare when traveling. And for residents, it’s definitely one of the worst places to drive.

The worst city to drive in 

USA Today shared results from the Waze app’s 2018 Driver Satisfaction Index, ranking some of the best and worst places to drive. The survey considers all aspects of driving, including safety, traffic, road quality, and driver services across 217 metro areas worldwide.

And when it comes to the worst U.S. cities to drive in, Honolulu, Hawaii, ranks as the absolute pits. So, what does this island paradise do so wrong that makes it more dreadful than bustling U.S. cities like New York and Los Angeles?

Why this vacation hotspot is a drag

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Honolulu Civil Beat shed some light on the city’s bad rap for the worst traffic. Over the years, there have been worst-city-driving lists like these, including those from INRIX, a Washington-based traffic research firm. In previous years, Honolulu drivers lost more than 50 hours annually by sitting in traffic gridlock. 

Part of the congestion is due to the smaller number of public roadways leading to various parts of the city. On an island, there’s not enough room to fit more roads. Add to the limited number of routes, the morning and afternoon commute cluster, and this city offers its motorists a drag of a drive every day.

Tips for visitors to avoid driving in this city

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Though locals can’t do much to improve their driving situations, visitors can. Avoid driving in traffic by taking a rideshare or public transportation. Let a resident expert navigate the hectic roadways with experience so that you don’t have to try to figure out your way.

Also, depending upon where you’re going, you could walk or rent a bike to visit area attractions. If you plan to drive, give yourself enough time to get where you’re headed. 

Other U.S. cities with terrible traffic

Although more recent lists indicate Honolulu is no longer one of the worst places to drive, they’re not painting the entire picture. Traffic on the island really hasn’t improved. Only now, the metrics are calculating additional roadways beyond the major arteries previously measured. And with pandemic conditions, some Honolulu sources say traffic in the city is as awful as ever.

According to Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report 2019, Boston is the worst. In that city, drivers make it only 3.7 years between accidents. And Boston motorists are 167 percent likelier to have a car accident than the national average. Other metrics point to Jacksonville, Florida; San Diego, California; and Portland, Oregon as some of the nation’s worst places to drive today.

No matter where you drive, always remember to wear your seatbelt and avoid using your mobile device behind the wheel. But if you have to drive in any of these notoriously traffic-ridden cities, know you’re taking a few more risks than usual. From road conditions and gridlock to accident numbers, these are the nation’s worst places to drive.

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