Sacramento-area commuters lose 59 hours every year in traffic – and it’s getting worse

If it seems like it takes longer to get around Sacramento than it used to, it’s not just your imagination.

The latest urban mobility report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute showed Sacramento-area residents had the 22nd-worst commute delays in the country, losing 59 hours in 2017 stuck in traffic.

Since 1982, the amount of time each Sacramento resident spends stuck in traffic has skyrocketed. At that time, the average delay per commuter was a mere 16 hours. But since then the number has more than tripled. If that trend continues, the average commuter could see annual delays close to 70 hours by 2030.

All that time stuck in gridlock adds up. Overall, the annual cost of congestion in the region is currently $1.4 billion and more than 28 million gallons of excess fuel are consumed every year.

That’s an average yearly cost of $1,022 and 24 gallons of gasoline lost per commuter.

But don’t despair. At least we don’t have it as bad as Bay Area drivers.

The San Francisco-Oakland area saw the second-worst delay in the country, with 103 hours lost on the road, 45 wasted gallons of gas and a per-person cost of $2,390.

Southern California fared even worse, with the top place in the country for commute delays in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The average Angeleno spends 119 hours commuting per year, which costs them 35 gallons of gas and $2,440.

Sacramento might not seem so bad comparatively, but consider that the city tied for annual delays with Baltimore and fared worse than other major U.S. cities including Nashville, Charlotte, Orlando, Las Vegas and San Antonio.

So how can Sacramento residents avoid the traffic jam? Try to avoid driving between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. That time block accounts for the worst traffic in the area, as workers head for home.

On weekends, traffic congestion is the worst between noon and 2 p.m.

Lack of housing may be partially responsible for delays in California, as super commuters spend more time on the road heading to work in dense cities.

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Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.