Traffic congestion in the United States has continued to worsen, creating a 78-billion- dollar annual drain on the U.S. economy, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Because of the congestion, Americans lose 4.2 billion hours and waste 2.9 billion gallons of fuel annually, said the 2007 Urban Mobility Report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI).
"Congestion is a far more complex problem than is apparent at first glance," said Tim Lomax, a research engineer at TTI and a co- author of the report, which is based on data from 2005.
"The better the data we use to define the problem, the more successful we will be in addressing its root causes," Lomax said.
The report also found that motorists in two California counties- - Los Angeles and Orange counties -- face worse rush-hour traffic congestion than those in 13 other "large urban areas" of the country.
"Large urban areas" refer to those with populations greater than 3 million.
The report said the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana area had the largest "travel time index" -- a comparison of travel time during peak traffic conditions versus travel time during "free flow" conditions.
The report found that congestion causes the average motorist in the region to spend an extra 72 hours a year on the road, wasting an average of 57 gallons of gas. The national average was 38 hours and 26 gallons in a year.
The Chicago area had the second-highest travel time index, followed by San Francisco/Oakland, New York/Newark and Miami.
"There is no 'magic' technology or solution on the horizon because there is no single cause of congestion," said Lomax.
"The good news is that there are multiple strategies involving traffic operations and public transit available right now that if applied together can lessen this problem," Lomax said.