Study connects traffic jams to economy, forecasts cost to consumer to exceed $1,000 annually by 2020

Updated Apr 9, 2013

traffic jamThe total cost of traffic congestion to the U.S. economy in 2011 was $121 billion, according to a report from our sister site Better Roads.

Better Roads analyzed the findings of a Texas A&M study conducted last year, which found that the average consumer spent $818 in 2011 on traffic congestion costs. The report says that cost could grow to $1,010 per consumer per year by 2020.

Obviously, the biggest cost in traffic jams is the time and fuel you waste. The report found that those costs came to a combined $27 billion in 2011. That’s 5.5 billion hours wasted in traffic along with 2.9 billion gallons of fuel.

The most interesting aspect to the report however is the connection it finds between traffic jams and the economy. As bad as traffic congestion was in 2011, it was nowhere near the 2005 peak when the economy was healthy. According to the report, “….when the economy recovers, so does traffic congestion and when unemployment lines shrank, lines of bumper-to-bumper traffic grew.”

The report suggest the U.S. government be proactive in reducing the problem as the national cost could grow to nearly $200 billion per year by 2020.