New York has earned the dubious distinction of having the worst traffic in the United States, according to the TomTom Traffic Index.

Congestion costs New York city upwards of $15 billion annually, including in lost productivity and extra fuel costs. Research has also shown a link between higher congestion and higher crash rates. In the first month of 2023, there were more than 7,000 motor vehicle collisions across New York City.

New York The Worst U.S. Traffic City

Everything in New York is on a bigger scale: the buildings, the attractions, the energy…and the traffic.

Mapping and location technology company TomTom puts out an annual Traffic Index that ranks cities around the world based on average travel times. New York took the top spot in the U.S. and ranked 19th worldwide for its traffic in 2022.  

Last year, New Yorkers spent 236 hours—the equivalent of 9.83 days—in traffic. On average, it took 24 minutes and 30 seconds to drive 10 km, or around 6 miles, through New York. That’s over a minute more than in 2021.

Per 10 km trip, NYC commuters spent an extra 12 minutes in the car during the morning rush and an extra 17 minutes during the evening rush. Over the course of the year, that added up to 111 hours, or 4 days and 15 hours, driving in rush hour.

The average weekday commute, without congestion, should take New Yorkers 32 minutes, says TomTom. But with traffic, it takes them 1 hour, 1 minute. The worst driving time was Thursday from 4 pm – 5 pm, when driving 10 km took an average of 35 minutes, 30 seconds.

These figures, it should be noted, are for New York’s city center. They’re about twice as bad as the New York metro area. But New York’s metro area still ranks as the worst in the U.S., averaging 13 minutes to drive 10 km, with 113 hours (4.7 days) spent in rush hour.

Congestion and Car Accidents

Congestion costs the City of New York up to $15 billion annually. As part of OneNYC 2050, a long-term strategic plan, the City has a goal of managing and reducing congestion. It aims to do so by implementing measures such as congestion pricing, using technology to enforce traffic laws, expanding bike and bus lanes, and exploring car-share programs.

Reducing congestion can not only help to reduce emissions, but it could also lead to safer roads. Less congestion is typically associated with fewer fatal crashes, federal researchers say.

This was not the trend during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the number of deadly car crashes soared in NYC and nationwide, despite lighter traffic. Experts attribute this to an increase in reckless driving, particularly by young men.

The relationship between congestion and road safety in cities is complex, but the scientific literature generally shows that accidents increase as congestion and traffic volume increase.

  • A 2021 study in Transport Policy found that, “For most congested cities, any effective measure to contain congestion may also lead to better safety outcomes.”
  • A study of expressways in U.S. cities showed increasing traffic congestion is associated with a continuing increase in the crash rate.
  • Some studies have also found an association between congestion and fatal and serious injury accidents.

None of this should come as a great surprise. Peter Muennig, a professor at Columbia University’s Department of Health Policy and Management, explaining the recent rise in crash deaths and pedestrian injuries, put it plainly when he said that, “The more vehicles on the road, the more chance you have for a collision.”

New York City Records 7,000+ Accidents in January

The New York City Department of Transportation reported positive news to begin 2023, announcing that the City experienced fewer traffic fatalities in 2022 for the first time in three years. Overall, traffic deaths fell 6.6% from 2021 to 2022.

Mayor Adams cited these numbers as evidence that “New York City is getting safer.” A peek into January 2023 accident data, however, shows there is still much room for improvement.

In January, the City recorded 7,191 motor vehicle collisions resulting in 3,608 injuries and 16 deaths. The leading cause of collisions was driver inattention/distraction, followed by failure to yield right of way, following too closely, improper lane usage, and speeding.

The more than 7,000 January accidents were a slight improvement over December 2022 and furthers the narrative that New York’s streets are becoming safer. But as long as there are car accidents in New York City, there will be a need for NY car accident lawyers.

If you were hurt in a crash and have questions about your rights, including whether you can file a lawsuit outside of the state’s No-Fault insurance system, call (855) SANDERS or contact us.