The 10 Worst States to Live in if You Hate Dealing with Traffic

One region of the country is home to many of the cities that pose the biggest headaches for drivers.

woman sitting in driving seat stuck in traffic looking out of window in frustration
Updated May 28, 2024
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Population growth has put more cars on the road, leaving parts of the U.S. subject to heavy congestion. That is especially true in one region of the country, where many states get poor marks for traffic.

Recently, WalletHub identified the worst cities for traffic and infrastructure. Some of the factors including in the rankings were:

  • Rush-hour congestion
  • Increase in vehicles on highways between 2020 and 2022
  • Average commute time by car
  • Following are the top 10 states that WalletHub says are particularly difficult places to drive, and where sitting in traffic can cost you time and money. If you live in one of these high-traffic states, make sure you buy the right auto insurance policy, because you might need it.

    Maryland

    SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe aerial view of baltimore skylines with inner harbor

    Maryland ranked worst for traffic and congestion in the WalletHub analysis.

    The Old Line State also took fifth place in the ranking of the worst states for driving overall. If you plan to drive here, a little extra patience will go a long way.


    Massachusetts

    kirkikis/adobe leonard p zakim bridge with cables connecting boston with charlestown during day time

    As a whole, New England fared worse than most of the rest of the country in terms of driving and traffic conditions.

    Clogged roads are a way of life in Massachusetts. Traffic in Boston is so bad that the city was home to the famed "Big Dig," in which traffic was rerouted to a tunnel to try to alleviate congestion.

    One silver lining for drivers in the Bay State: Massachusetts has the fifth-lowest rate of car thefts among the 50 states, according to WalletHub.

    New Jersey

    Drazen/adobe female standing at car workshop shocked at receipt in hand

    In addition to being home to a lot of traffic, New Jersey is one of the more expensive states in terms of cost of auto ownership and maintenance, WalletHub says.

    On a lighter note, at least residents of the Garden State will have no problems keeping their cars clean. New Jersey is No. 4 in the nation in car washes per capita, according to WalletHub.


    New York

    Luciano Mortula-LGM/adobe led screens on buildings at time square

    It’s no secret that a lot of people live in New York, which translates to many cars on the road. Like neighboring New Jersey, New York drivers have a high cost of auto ownership and maintenance.

    If you do get in an accident on the Empire State’s busy roads, at least you will have the solace of knowing that New York has third most auto-repair shops per capita in the U.S., according to WalletHub.

    Pro tip: Being stuck in traffic can cause you to burn a lot of extra fuel. Using one of the top credit cards for gas can save you a little extra cash every time you fill up.

    Rhode Island

    Luciano Mortula-LGM/adobe car rear window with dirt having wash me inscribed on it

    If you plan on driving through the small New England state of Rhode Island, you'll likely battle some congestion along the way.

    The Ocean State also ranks low in terms of gas stations, auto-repair shops and car washes per capita, WalletHub says.

    New Hampshire

    scharfsinn86/adobe man sitting at driving seat handling car in extreme blizzard during winter

    Not only is traffic bad in New Hampshire, but the weather can make things much worse.

    The Granite State ranks dead last in WalletHub’s “days with precipitation” category, meaning the roads here can be especially difficult to navigate due to the elements. That can make daily commutes more difficult and potentially dangerous.


    Florida

    lunamarina/Adobe cars standing in traffic to drive towards miami beach and port with direction sign boards on road

    Florida attracts millions of tourists, and all those drivers make traffic a challenge in many parts of the Sunshine State.

    On a brighter note, Florida ranks high for amenities such as gas stations, auto-repair shops and car washes per capita.

    Hawaii

    RightFramePhotoVideo/adobe girl driving jeep at hawaii enjoying road trip during day time

    Hawaii may be paradise, but traffic conditions can be less than idyllic. Still, you might feel some good vibes while idling in traffic.

    According to a separate study by Forbes, the Aloha State has some of the nicest drivers in America. That means you might be able to smoothly merge into heavy traffic with fewer honks and glares.

    Virginia

    kthx1138/adobe i-95 north sign on road with clear sunny sky in background

    Old Dominion’s poor ranking for traffic is unlikely to come as a surprise to the state’s residents.

    In particular, Northern Virginia has earned an infamous reputation due to its notoriously congested roads and frequent backups along the southbound stretch of Interstate 95 from Fairfax County Parkway to Fredericksburg.


    California

    MACLEG/adobe iconic hollywood sign on mountain

    California long has had a reputation as being among the worst states for traffic in the U.S. It’s cost of auto ownership and maintenance also is very high, according to WalletHub.

    Looking for a bright spot in the Golden State? California ranks No. 1 in WalletHub’s “days with precipitation” category, meaning the weather is rarely an issue here. 

    And the state also ranks first in amenities such as gas stations, auto-repair shops and car washes per capita.

    Bottom line

    Olga/adobe people waiting in car at costco gas gas station for their turn during day time

    Living in a state with bad traffic can be a major drag, costing time and money. If you drive in a state on this list, look for ways to cut your costs.

    For example, a great Costco hack is to buy fuel at the warehouse retailer. The price of gas at Costco is often lower than what you will pay at local gas stations. 

    Saving money on gas might make it a little easier to tolerate those long hours stuck in traffic.

    • You could save up to $600 with some companies
    • Compare dozens of providers in under 5 minutes
    • Fast, free and easy way to shop for insurance
    • Quickly find the perfect rate for you

    Author Details

    Ryan Clancy

    Ryan Clancy is a freelance writer and blogger. He's passionate about all things finance and tech, especially personal finance, and bringing it down to a level that everyone can understand. Ryan lives in New York City, and writes about all types of finance and tech at sites such as Forbes, iCap, Nas Academy, PolicyScout, Integrate.io, and many more.