Driving in the United States can be a stressful experience, especially if you happen to live in, work in, or travel through one of the cities that are known for having some of the worst traffic and road conditions in the country. Whether it’s due to high population density, poorly designed infrastructure, or a lack of public transportation options, these cities can make travel a real nightmare for drivers.

What Makes a City Bad for Drivers?

There are many different criteria that can be used to evaluate whether a metro area lands on a “worst cities for driving” list. Often, larger cities end up on these lists due to the sheer number of cars on their roads – when there are more cars, there tend to be more accidents and longer commutes.

But smaller cities can have their share of troubles as well. Areas that are poorly planned or have not been well-maintained have an increased risk of travel woes for drivers. However, for the purpose of this blog, let’s focus on some of the larger U.S. cities that are well-known for giving drivers a major headache.

Los Angeles, California

One of the worst cities for driving in the United States is Los Angeles, California. With a population of over 4 million people and an area of over 4,000 square miles, Los Angeles is one of the most densely populated cities in the country.

This factor, combined with a lack of public transportation options and a sprawling layout, makes it incredibly difficult to get around by car. The city is infamous for its traffic congestion, with average daily commute times of over 30 minutes. In addition to the traffic, many of the city’s roads are in poor condition, plagued by potholes and crumbling pavement.

New York City, New York

Another city that is notorious for its terrible driving conditions is New York City, New York. With a population of over 8 million people and an area of 468 square miles, New York City is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

The city’s streets are always crowded with cars, buses, and taxis, making it extremely difficult to navigate by car. In addition to the traffic, the city’s roads are also in poor condition, with many of them being narrow and poorly maintained. The city also has a lack of parking options, making it difficult for drivers to find a place to park their vehicles. Additionally, the winter weather makes driving hazardous for those traversing the city.

Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas is also one of the worst cities for driving in the United States. With a population of over 2.3 million people and an area of over 600 square miles, Houston is the fourth most populous city in the country. The city’s roads are dogged by traffic congestion, with drivers spending an average of 71 hours per year stuck in traffic.

In addition to the traffic, the city’s roads are also in poor condition, with many of them being prone to flooding. Houston also often finds itself on the top ten list of cities for fatal crashes.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois is another city that is highly ranked on many “worst cities for driving” lists. In a 2020 study, Chicago ranked first in both distracted driving fatalities and hours lost during traffic congestion.

In addition to the traffic, the city’s weather extremes make the roads prone to potholes, and in many areas of the city, the roads are poorly maintained, which leads to increased vehicle repair costs for drivers.

Washington, D.C.

Finally, the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., has to be included on a list of the worst cities for driving in the United States. With a population of over 700,000 people and an area of 68 square miles, the city’s roads are always crowded with cars and trucks. This density causes traffic to move slowly, which can be extremely frustrating for drivers. Weather conditions also can be very challenging in the area.

Tips for Safe City Driving

Driving safely in city traffic can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and skills, you can navigate the roads with confidence and reduce your risk of accidents. Here are some tips to help you drive safely in city traffic:

  1. Stay alert and focused at all times. City traffic can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be alert and scan the road ahead for potential hazards. Avoid distractions like cell phones and music and always keep your eyes on the road. Find out if is it illegal to drive barefoot.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. City streets are often crowded with pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and anticipate the actions of other road users.
  3. Follow the speed limit. Speed limits in city areas are usually lower than on highways, so it’s important to follow the posted speed limit to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Be aware of road signs and what they mean.
  4. Use your signals properly. Signal your intentions well in advance to give other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians the time to react. Learn how right turns can keep you safe.
  5. Keep a safe distance. Tailgating is dangerous and can lead to accidents, so keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. City traffic can be stop-and-go, so be prepared for other vehicles to stop abruptly so you can do the same when necessary to reduce the risk of collision.
  6. Check your mirrors frequently. City traffic can be chaotic and fast-paced, so be aware of the vehicles around you by using your rear-view and side mirrors to stay on top of what’s happening. Know how to avoid fixed objects.
  7. Be respectful of cyclists’ and pedestrians’ rights. City streets are often filled with cyclists and pedestrians, so it’s important to be respectful of their rights and give them space on the road.
  8. Watch for motorcycles, scooters, and other motorized vehicles. Larger cities often have more non-automobile vehicles on the road, and they can be more difficult to see. Look twice when accelerating from a stop to ensure that the roadway is clear.
  9. Use apps to prepare. A weather app can help you prepare for changing driving conditions, and a navigation app can help you find the best route to your destination, possibly even avoiding traffic congestion, accidents, and other delays.
  10. Take a defensive driving course. A DriveSafe Online Defensive Driving course will help you brush up on your driving skills and help you learn new tactics and strategies for safe driving. What you can expect when taking an online traffic safety course.

By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of accidents and navigate city traffic with confidence. Remember to always drive defensively, stay alert and focused, and be respectful of other road users.

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