Traffic jamming: That time spent behind the wheel adds up

Scenes like this could be familiar to many commuters in Arizona, who spend time and money stuck in traffic over the course of a year, a recent study claims. (Photo by Danielle Scott via flickr/Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON – What could you do with the 51 hours that you spent stuck in traffic last year if you were a typical Phoenix commuter? Or even the four hours that the average Lake Havasu commuter spent in congestion on the other end of the state’s traffic jam spectrum?

For its 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard released last week, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute tracked traffic trends in 470 cities across the country and published findings on the time spent stuck in traffic and the costs of that congestion on 101 cities.

Nine of those cities were in Arizona. The worst were Phoenix and Tucson, where commuters averaged 51 and 47 hours, respectively, stuck behind the wheel in 2014. That was good for 13th- and 23rd-worst in the nation.

It’s not exactly time well-spent. But how could that time be spent if not behind the wheel?

Baking brownies, riding every ride at Disneyland, reading “The Old Man and the Sea,” running every leg of the Triple Crown and more, depending on the city. Cronkite News laid out the options in the interactive graphic below. Click on the arrow at right to see what you could have done last year if you weren’t stuck commuting.

– Graphic by Tom Blanton