Cities Where Traffic Caused the Most Stress — January 2021 in the US and UK

When I was a teenager living in Brooklyn, I remember that my friends and I took driver’s education classes so that we can experience the privilege and simply plain fun of driving a motorized vehicle as soon as possible, with the freedom of being able to go anywhere we wanted at any time we wanted…

Cities Where Traffic Caused the Most Stress — January 2021 in the US and UK

…but the experience of driving is fraught with impediments: inclement weather, ongoing road construction, and rush-hour traffic are some of the sources of frustration with which motorists deal — sometimes on a regular basis.

I have been given express written permission to use the images and the verbatim text from this article pertaining to the prices of transportation around the world — which was written for FleetLogging — to give more details about the cities in the United States and the United Kingdom where traffic causes the most stress as of January of 2021 based on traffic-related “tweets” — keeping in mind that the rankings within that list may have already likely changed as you read this article due to a plethora of reasons.

Using Twitter API, 57,282 messages on Twitter which contained or featured the word traffic written in English were analyzed using the TensiStrength tool to identify the roads, cities, and states that cause the most stress in the United Kingdom and the United States; and messages from traffic update accounts were removed. The post coordinates to detect the location of each message — where it was added — or the location mentioned in their profile were referred.

The lists of most congested roads from the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard for the United Kingdom and the United States of America, this Wikipedia list of UK motorways, this Wikipedia list of roads in London, and this list from the Office of Highway Policy Information of the most traveled urban highways in America were used to get the breakdown by roads — and the messages which contained the names of those roads were then extracted.

The data was collected in January of 2021.

Whether you are a commuter, hauler, or just have somewhere to be, FleetLogging wants you to take the least stressful route — and as a side note: never “tweet” while driving! Let us begin with the article.

traffic cars highway

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Driving is supposed to be fun. Imagine telling your ancestors about the possibility to hurtle around town in a metal box at three times the speed of the average horse. Okay, so they’d probably be terrified at first – but after an easy cruise along an open, blue-skied motorway, your great-great-great grandma would probably get the idea.

Unfortunately, those open motorways are in short supply. Motorists have filled the roads with slow-moving metal boxes and named it ‘traffic.’ And fun is in short supply, too. Instead, a slow road when you’re in a hurry causes stress, road rage, and more. The fatigue of all that stopping and starting leads to mistakes, a short temper, and further stress. One study found that commuting during rush hour causes your blood pressure to spike. Another even found that domestic violence rises in times of high traffic.

Key Findings

  • The UK city with the most stressed drivers is Telford, where 83.3% of traffic-oriented tweets are stressed.
  • Lubbock in Texas is the city with the most stressed drivers in the US, with a 75% stress rate.
  • Rhode Island is the US state with the highest density of stressed traffic-themed tweets (62.18%).
  • The I-95 in Miami is America’s most stressful road, with 86.96% of tweets that mention traffic on this road exhibiting signs of stress.
  • The UK’s most stressful road is the A12 between London and Lowestoft, with a 92.86% stress rate.

Icy Winter Causes Texas City Road Stress

Our first interactive shows the most traffic-stressed cities in the UK and US. Click the tab to switch between countries.

The American city where traffic causes the most stress is Lubbock in Texas. We found that three-quarters of all traffic-themed tweets from Lubbock showed signs of stress. The city suffered harsh icy conditions this winter. Delays were caused by slower, safer drivers and the road closures that accompany major collisions. The city suffered a glut of fatal accidents early in 2021, leading traffic police to up their vigilance against reckless drivers.

The UK’s most stressed traffic participants can be found in the city of Telford. The city’s drivers are significantly more stressed than those of second-placed Brighton & Hove in the South East (83.3% Vs. 71.4%). The Green Party in Brighton and Hove have committed to lowering motor traffic, boosting cycling, and expanding green areas in a bid to improve the area for everyone.

Tiny Rhode Island Packed with Slow-Moving Vehicles

Our heat map illustrates the most stressful states for traffic in the US. Colder colors indicate a lower density of stressed tweets; hotter colors indicate more stress.

Click on the image for an enlarged version. Source: FleetLogging.

America’s smallest state is also the second-most densely populated one – and has the nation’s most stressed drivers. Rhode Island has a traffic stress rate of 62.18%. Roadworks such as the closure of Manville Bridge in Lincoln (which normally carries 8,000 cars each day) have exacerbated the problem of the state’s already overpopulated roadways.

Utah has the lowest traffic stress, a full 6% less than the second mellowest state, Iowa. The state of Utah is celebrated for its leisure routes and was recently declared America’s best state for driving due to a low fatality rate and low cars-to-road-mileage ratio.

London’s A12 Is Most Stressful Road in UK or US

Imagine if journeys were measured in stress levels rather than mileage! Our radial graphs below illustrate the most stressed road in the UK and US.

Click on the image for an enlarged version. Source: FleetLogging.

FleetLogging’s recent study of the rush hours of major cities declared London to have the boggiest escape routes in the world. Guess what? London is also home to eight of the UK’s nine most stressful roads. The A12 takes the crown (92.9%). This dual carriageway begins just north of the River Thames and leads (slowly) through the counties of Essex and Suffolk to Lowestoft on the east coast. Previous plaudits for the A12 include “the most dangerous road in Essex” and “Britain’s worst road.”

Interstate 95 from Miami, Florida, is America’s most stressed road, with an 86.96% stress rate. The I-95 is “built like a back road and one crash completely paralyzes traffic” according to one angry tweeter. But roads in Georgia and California dominate the stress hit list. A spate of highway shootings in Atlanta, including two on America’s second-most stressful road (I-85), may or may not have been a response to traffic stress – but the investigations certainly slowed local commuters.

Click on the image for an enlarged version. Source: FleetLogging.

It’s not always possible to avoid the traffic, but if you can — you should. Scientists found that every minute longer it takes you to get to work will add to your dissatisfaction in life. Not good news when you’re already feeling stressed! If you must navigate busy roads or cities when you travel, try deep breathing, singing, and even smiling to keep stress at bay. Another angry driver on the road just adds to the problem.


Traffic Highway

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Living in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, I would probably agree that being placed eighth on the list is correct — but I would argue that the greater metropolitan area of the District of Columbia consistently has the worst traffic in the United States; and the greater metropolitan areas of Los Angeles; New York; and the South Florida megalopolis of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach would possible be second, third, and fourth respectively on the list based on my experiences.

Even though this article is based on the cities in the United States and the United Kingdom which cause the most stress, please feel free to discuss your personal list of cities anywhere in the world which you believe that cause the most stress — as well as your reasons as to why.

For example, driving in Vancouver can be stressful because the highway system in that city feels incomplete, as one cannot travel north and south through that city without having to drive on the city streets themselves, clogged with traffic from stop signs, traffic lights, and other traffic control devices…

All photographs ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Cities Where Traffic Caused the Most Stress — January 2021 in the US and UK”

  1. Barry Graham says:

    Most of the UK roads mentioned are not actually Motorways. The A12, which I know well, having grown up not far from it, is like a motorway most of the way, but it’s not a real motorway, and this is one of the reasons it’s so stressful. It has traffic lights in the most unexpected of places. The worst part of it is Gallows Corner. See what happens to the 4 lane divided highway that suddenly becomes a two lane street (one lane in each direction) – it was built as a temporary solution 50 years ago. See here

    In order to be a Motorway, it has to have an M at the beginning and has similar specifications to an Interstate here.

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