To paraphrase an old saying of Mark Twain's, everybody talks about the traffic, but nobody does anything about it. We are constantly bombarded with data about how much time we waste in our cars and what it is costing us, but congestion seems to always gets worse.
The latest data comes from iOnRoad, the android and iPhone app that aims to improve driving in real time. Using computer algorithms and smartphone cameras, it detects cars in front of your vehicle, alerting you when you are in danger from a collision or sideswipe.
With data collected from drivers in one million downloads, iOnRoad has come up with a list of the worst cities to drive in. The usual suspects are here, concentrated on the East and West Coasts, but each has its own idiosyncrasies.
The rotten core of driving in the Big Apple is the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, better known as the B.Q.E. As the New York Times wrote last year, "Most days, and most hours, the dire choices faced by many drivers on the B.Q.E. are these: Bad, worse and no exit."
Brooklyn and Queens are in a class of their own, according to iOnRoad, with the lowest safety rating for lane departures and collision alerts. Driving is so harrowing that cable channel A&E has constructed a reality show around Queens driving instructors called Last Chance Driving School.
Data shows that Pittsburgh has one of the highest non-green driving scores with high CO2 emissions. That hasn't stopped motorists from declaring war on cyclists. Despite several fatal accidents, one bike advocate quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says many drivers view bikers as "the equivalent of a moving pothole."
New York is known for high front-collision alerts. No kidding. In "10 tips for Driving in Manhattan" posted on the blog at city guide MyCityWay, number four is "Taxi Drivers Don't Care." The blog also warns that despite laws requiring passengers to exit on the street side, "the occasional idiot will swing his door open into traffic."
The City of Brotherly Love is the least congested of the nation's top 10 metropolitan areas, according to iOnRoad. As compensation, the nearby Schuylkill Expressway is so notorious for traffic and accidents that its local nickname is the "Sure Kill Crawl-way."
The Orange County metroplex has a low average driving speed which means lots of traffic. But that hasn't hurt the growth in the number of attorneys who identify themselves as speeding/traffic lawyers. Good reason. The National Speed Trap Exchange identifies 66 speed traps in Irvine.
Houston has more lane departure alerts than front collision alerts, according to iOnRoad. But that's when traffic is moving. According to researchers at Texas A&M, the average Houstonian burned 23 gallons of gas sitting in traffic last year.
8. Los Angeles
Drivers in L.A. take their rules of the road seriously. Especially when they're stuck in traffic. According to "Tips for Driving in Los Angeles" on About.com: "Honking simply because traffic isn't moving just identifies you as a tourist (or transplant). Don't do it."
Boston has a high percentage of tailgating according to iOnRoad. And this complaint from a Greater-Boston area driver says it best: "My biggest pet peeve? Well it has to be when I am the only car on the road, no one behind me, and some jerk has to be all brave and pull out in front of me when I practically have to slam on my brakes to keep from hitting them."
A tourist's guide to driving in our nation's capital on Kuro5hin.org contains these helpful hints: "Rain causes an immediate 50-point drop of I.Q. in drivers. Snow causes an immediate 100-point drop in I.Q. and a rush to the local supermarket for toilet paper, bread, and milk."