Seattle spending less time in traffic, but still among most-congested cities


by KING 5 News

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 5:58 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 22 at 2:26 PM

In case you didn’t notice, drivers in Seattle tend to spend a lot of time sitting in traffic. But a new study finds the amount of time actually went down last year.

Seattle drivers spent an average of 33 hours in slow traffic last year compared to 44 hours in 2010 according to Kirkland-based traffic data company INRIX.

"Seattle drivers last year wasted 33 hours in traffic. That's down 25 percent from a year ago," said Jim Bak with INRIX.

Despite the dramatic drop, Seattle actually moved up in INRIX's rankings of most-congested cities because other areas saw their traffic ease even more. Seattle ranked seventh in 2011, but was tenth in 2010.

INRIX credits a slow economy with high gas prices keeping drivers off the roads.

"What we're seeing really is driving this it's strongly a function of high fuel prices. So as Americans drive less, they spend less. Seattle is no different," said Bak.

The average price for unleaded in Washington Tuesday morning was $4.24 per gallon. That's up 25 cents from a year ago. In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area it's $4.28, 28 cents higher than last year.

INRIX said the worst traffic trouble spots in the region are SR 520 westbound from 148th to 84th (Thursdays 5-6 p.m.), I-405 southbound from SR 520 to Coal Creek Parkway (Thursday 5-6 p.m.) and I-5 from Albro to James Street (Tuesday 8-9 a.m.).

Here's is the full top 10 list of the worst cities in the nation for driving:

1. Honolulu
2. Los Angeles
3. San Francisco
4. New York
5. Bridgeport, Conn.
6. Washington
7. Seattle
8. Austin
9. Boston
10. Chicago


KING 5's Roberta Romero and Travis Pittman and Liza Javier contributed to this report.