This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 15, 2004

U.S. Traffic Jams Waste 5.7 Billion Gallons of Fuel in 2002

Photo of a highway full of traffic.

Increasing traffic congestion is wasting both time and fuel throughout the United States.
Credit: Warren Gretz, NREL

Traffic congestion doesn't just waste time, it also wastes fuel: 5.7 billion gallons of fuel in 2002, to be exact. The "2004 Urban Mobility Report," published by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), examined 85 urban areas throughout the United States and found growing congestion. Trips that would've required 20 minutes in free flowing traffic extended to 27 minutes on average during peak congestion times in the 85 urban areas, wasting fuel and causing a total of 3.5 billion hours of wasted time. But some approaches are helping: The report credits "operational treatments"—metered on ramps, motorist assistance programs, traffic signal timing, and street designs that encourage smooth traffic flow—for avoiding 335 million hours of traffic delays, while it credited public transportation systems for avoiding 1.12 billion hours of delays. Together, those two approaches saved more than 2 billion gallons of fuel in 2002. See the TTI press release or go directly to the full report.