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Tag: driving conditions

Photo shows a bridge/walkway leading into downtown Austin, with cars driving by and several pedestrians enjoying the view.
Austin is beautiful to explore, but if you’re driving you might find yourself, instead, looking at someone else’s bumper.

Anyone who lives in the Central Texas area is no stranger to traffic and construction delays. Whether it’s construction, rush hour, or a wind turbine blade stuck in an intersection (yes, it’s real), traffic is all but guaranteed to be slow.

But just how slow? Texas A&M Transportation Institute has released their annual report on Texas roads for 2018, featuring the most congested roads in the state. Here are some of the highlights in Austin.

The cost of congestion

It’s apparent traffic is a problem when it makes us late to work, but it is also a problem for pollution and a waste of resources.

In Austin alone, the report found a cumulative delay of 66 million hours and 24 million gallons of wasted fuel. That’s about 37 olympic-pools-worth of gas.

Our time sitting in traffic also adds up – a commuter who spends 45 minutes a day commuting spends the equivalent of 15.6 days in the car per year. And that’s just for work travel, alone.

Worst roads

A google map of Austin with IH-35 highlighted from Ben White Boulevard to 290 N. The route shows red and orange in the downtown area.
This stretch of IH-35 was determined the most congested road in Austin for 2018. This is a Google Map from non-peak hours, which still shows a slowdown at Lady Bird Lake.

At the top of the list for Austin’s most congested roads is IH-35 from US 290 N to Ben White Blvd, where the annual delay per mile is 1.3 million hours. This is the span of IH-35 that goes from North Loop through downtown and south of Lady Bird Lake.

Anyone who has been through downtown could probably tell you it’s the worst stretch of traffic in the city, but the extent of its congestion is mind-blowing.

It is followed by the next segment of IH-35 south, from Ben White to Slaughter Lane, where the annual delay is nearly 500,000 hours per mile.

For freight-related traffic, IH-35 in Austin is also the most congested in the entire state.

Other congestion

Honorable road congestion mentions include:

  • google map of MoPac in Austin
    MoPac from Texas Loop 1 to Highway 183.

The problem

Texas A&M Transportation Institute has gathered this data since 2010 to measure traffic and monitor roadway volume and speed data, in order to reduce gridlock in the state.

The institute, along with many other sources, attribute a rising population with worsening road congestion across the state. A survey in 2016 found that 83 percent of Austinites are unhappy with our driving conditions in the city.

Many solutions have been attempted, and failed, and no feasible alternative has been proposed. Without a solution in sight, the best thing Austin drivers can do is shoot for non-peak hours to travel or use public transportation as much as possible.

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Avoid a trip to the body shop this holiday season with safe travel tipsIt’s the season for family and friends to come together and enjoy time with one another. This can mean travelling by car, along with many others who will head out on the highways and roads. Increased traffic on the roads means greater chance of an accident. here are a few safety tips to stay on the road and out of the body shop.

Be patient

Always have patience in traffic. It helps to leave early for your destination so you don’t feel rushed. Speeding on the road increases your chance of an accident, and puts others in danger too. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Don’t make the experience of the road trip more stressful than necessary.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

Never take a road trip while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 accidents nationwide are caused by drowsy drivers.

If you do travel overnight, consider traveling a short distance and then stopping for a rest break. Do not drive if you’re having trouble focusing on the road. If that is the case, pull over somewhere you feel safe and take a break. Well-lit grocery stores, shopping centers and even casinos often have lit and monitored parking lots where no one will bother you.

Monitor the Roads and Weather

A white SUV drives through snowy weather on a two-lane road. Snow is falling and is on the trees and ground.
Monitor the weather in the weeks before your trip. If there is predicted to be snow or hazardous driving weather, you may want to adjust your plans to make sure you get to your destination safely.

Prior to leaving for your road trip, take a look at the road and weather conditions to determine if you might encounter any hazardous weather. Pay attention to travel warnings, and if it is unsafe for driving, wait until the conditions improve. Follow this same step on the return home.

If you do not feel comfortable driving in specific weather condition, like snow, look for alternate methods of travel or different routes so you can avoid having an accident.

Watch Your Surroundings

Accidents can happen on residential roads, rural roads, and major freeways. No matter the time of day, pay close attention to everything around you while driving. If you are on a busy freeway, pay attention to other cars and anything on the road. When a route takes you down a wooded area, watch for animals that could dart in front of your car. Watch out for children riding bikes or playing on the road residential areas.

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