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On the road: Which US cities are the best, worst to drive in?

On the road: Which US cities are the best, worst to drive in?
car accident
(© PiyawatNandeenoparit – stock.adobe.com)

Americans lose an average of $564 a year wasting time on traffic jams.

Personal finance website WalletHub has released its report The best and worst cities of 2022 to drive in to determine the most driver-friendly places in the United States.

WalletHub compared the 100 largest US cities based on 30 key metrics. Data includes average gas prices, annual hours in traffic congestion per commuter, and auto repair shops per capita.

According to the report, the best city to drive in is Raleigh, NC, followed by Plano, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, Greensboro, NC and Winston-Salem, NC Orlando, Fla. is No. 10 on the list of the best cities to drive in.

On the other hand, Philadelphia is the worst city to drive in, followed by Detroit, Oakland, California, San Francisco, California and Chicago. The top 10 worst cities to drive in are New York City, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Md., Seattle, and Los Angeles.

The lowest number of road deaths per 100,000 population is in Honolulu at 2.30 am, which is 14.9 times lower than 34.26 in Memphis, the highest fatality rate.

Gilbert, Az., has the fewest car thefts per 1,000 residents at 0.58, which is 26.4 times less than Oakland, California, the city with the most car thefts at 15.33.

The lowest average gas price, $3.12 per gallon, is in Laredo, Texas, and is 1.8 times lower than San Francisco, the city with the highest $5.46 per gallon.

Corpus Christi, Texas has the lowest average parking fee of $1 for two hours, which is 38.4 times lower than Boston, with the highest parking fee of $38.40 for two hours.

Experts offered savings tips for drivers as gas prices are on the rise.

“Try to limit travel at speeds above 65 or 70 mph,” Texas A&M University professor and Faculty Fellow Dominique Lord said in a press release. “The optimum speed has been shown to be around 55 mph, where gas consumption will increase above or below that value. Therefore, it may be reasonable to go slightly faster than 55 mph. Try sudden acceleration or deceleration events, which increase fuel economy, to decrease.”

According to Dr. Hesham A. Rakha, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, tells drivers to choose gas-efficient routes.

“Faster travel times are not necessarily more energy efficient. Don’t be aggressive on the accelerator. We found that the top 10 percent of aggressive events during a trip consume 25 percent of the trip’s total fuel,” Rakha said.

When will there be more self-driving vehicles on US roads than human-powered vehicles?

“We have a long way to go before that will happen — probably 75-100 years,” Dr. Daniel V. McGehee, director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator, Industrial and Systems Engineering; Emergency Medicine, Public Health, Public Policy at the University of Iowa, in a press release. “It will be more than 25 years before 90 percent of the U.S. fleet has advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping (which is not automation).”

Professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UVA Brian L. Smith said it will be some time before a large number of self-driving vehicles will be seen on US roads. The majority will be in cities with on-demand services, such as Uber and Lyft.

“It will take longer to see them in more suburban and rural areas. The exception to this are large trucks. I expect to see partially automated platoons of trucks in the near future to enable more efficient and safer truck traffic,” Smith said in the press release.

Experts gave their views on what local authorities can do to reduce traffic and improve safety.

“Investments in balanced, resilient transportation systems that focus on moving people and goods rather than vehicles are a good start,” said Dr. Kyle Shelton, director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, said in the press release. For example, in urban areas, high-quality public transport, operated by professional drivers, not only transports people more efficiently and safely than single-use vehicles, but also frees up road space for shippers and commercial and emergency vehicles… stimulating a wider reach of users to communicate securely is a must. Most roads today are geared towards motorists. This orientation leaves other users on the periphery and, in the absence of infrastructure, endangers vulnerable users such as pedestrians and people on bicycles… The way we design our roads, especially those with multiple users, can greatly contribute to signaling to drivers how they share space.”

McGehee said local authorities can only enact hands-free laws when it comes to using smartphones while driving, have and enforce seat belt laws for all seats, lower BAC levels to 0.05 percent or higher, and implement strict teen driver license systems.