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Miserable commutes: The 10 worst cities for drivers in 2015

Traffic jams, road construction, bad weather, lack of parking, cost of gas, likelihood of an accident, and even the cost of vehicle ownership can all contribute to numerous everyday challenges for drivers. NerdWallet has analyzed driving conditions, time spent driving and insurance costs to rank the worst cities in the United States for drivers on the road.

NerdWallet looked at 50 of the largest metro areas in the U.S. and considered these seven factors to determine the 10 worst cities for drivers in 2015:

  • How bad are delays? 
  • How congested is it during peak commute times? 
  • How’s the weather? 
  • Is parking available? 
  • How much does car insurance cost annually? 
  • How expensive is gas? 
  • Is there a higher chance for an accident? 

Can you guess which city tops the 2015 rankings of the most miserable city for commuters and drivers?

10. New York, New York (Overall score: 48.64)

As the nation's most populated city, New York City streets can make for a long, tricky commute. Drivers in the Big Apple face 59 hours of delays each year, which is likely why New York City has a strong public transit culture. The New York City Transit Authority, which includes the subways, is the largest heavy rail transit system in the nation. 

Car owners spend $1,614.71 annually on car insurance, $500 above the national average.  

9. Detroit, Michigan (Overall score: 48.61)

In a bit of irony, while Detroit—known as the Motor City—makes a lot of cars, there's nowhere to park them. Detroit has the lowest parking availability among the cities on the NerdWallet top 10 list. For every 1,000 commuter cars, there are only 0.49 parking lots or garages.

In addition, there are the exorbitant auto insurance rates. Area crime and car theft boost insurance premiums for residents. Detroit drivers pay a shocking average of $4,924.99 each year for car insurance—over 347% of what the average U.S. car owner pays. According to FBI data, in 2012, Detroit had 11,500 motor vehicle thefts. 

8. Seattle, Washington (Overall score: 48.00)

Seattle's notorious rainy weather often creates dangerous driving conditions resulting in slick roads and poor visibility. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle had 150 days of rain in 2012—40 days more than the national average.

Aside from the challenging weather, Seattle drivers face 48 hours of traffic delays each year or nearly 46% more than the national average.

7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Overall score: 45.88)

Philadelphia drivers saw 113 days of precipitation in 2012, and area drivers are 61.2% more likely go get into an accident than drivers in other major U.S. cities.

On average, car owners can expect to pay $1,278.20 for auto insurance in Philly, over $170 more than the national average. Gas prices are costly as well at 16 cents above the average U.S. cost per gallon.

6. San Francisco, California (Overall score: 45.42)

San Francisco drivers spend a sizeable amount of time in traffic delays: 61 hours each year. During peak hours, nearly 53% of the population is commuting.

Contributing to the challenges faced by San Francisco drivers is the high rate of car thefts. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area ranked No. 4 in the nation for auto theft in 2013. 

5. Chicago, Illinois (Overall score: 45.20)

Chicago drivers often face treacherous weather conditions and challenging, congested roadways. Drivers endure an average of 51 hours of delays each year. And like many metro areas, parking in Chicago is a challenge, with only 0.77 parking lots or garages for every 1,000 commuter vehicles. 

4. Miami, Florida (Overall score: 45.15)

Beautiful beaches and tropical weather are the main attractions, but Miami drivers spend an extra 47 hours a year behind the wheel—14 hours more than the national average. 

And living in paradise isn't cheap. Car owners pay an average of $1,750.10 for auto insurance annually, 59% more than the average U.S. driver.

3. Los Angeles, California (Overall score: 41.79)

Los Angeles freeways are notorious for bumper-to-bumper traffic. Drivers in the L.A. area experience an average of 61 hours of traffic delays each year. 

Gas prices contribute to a stressful commute. At $4.01 a gallon, L.A. drivers are paying 57 cents more than the national average for gasoline.

2. Washington, D.C. (Overall score: 38.24)

You have to have a lot of patience to drive in the nation's capital. Compared with other major cities, Washington, D.C., drivers waste the most time in traffic delays—67 hours each year. And tourists are a big part of the problem, often getting lost on the city's confusing circles and one-way streets.

In addition, Washington D. C. drivers pay a large amount for annual car insurance premiums at $1,390.88—nearly $300 more than drivers in the rest of the country.

1. Boston, Massachusetts (Overall score: 48.64)

In 2015, Boston tops the list of the worst place for car drivers, according to NerdWallet's research. It's no secret that roads in Boston are often congested. On average, Boston drivers can expect 53 hours of traffic delays each year (20 hours higher than the national average).

Drivers in Boston have the highest likelihood of being involved in an accident among all the 50 major cities NerdWallet surveyed. Also, Boston has limited parking space—only 1.36 parking lots and garages for every 1,000 commuter cars.



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