Finding the truth about the worst American cities for drivers – and the best

Everyone has a bad-traffic car story.

The worst highway here, the worst city there, the most reckless drivers, well, anywhere.

Sometimes we forget the good car driving experiences rather than celebrating them – extraordinary road trip, smooth commute to work, well-maintained roads, good weather, etc.

And that’s where Realtor.com, the popular real estate research website, jumped into the conversation, sending out its data team to find out the “wheel truth” about worst and best places to drive among America’s 100 largest housing markets.

We could start with the best list, but what’s the fun in that.

So let’s go with the worst.

Probably not a surprise, New York City comes in at No. 1, while Boston (No. 6) and Los Angeles (No. 9) also make the top, that is, bottom 10. Drivers in New Orleans, San Francisco and Miami, Nos. 2-4, respectively, may not find it difficult to imagine their cities making the list.

“New York didn’t just get our top spot, it smacked it over the head and ran away with it,” said Realtor.com, which considered factors such as rate of car ownership, percentage of roads in “good condition,” average number of hours spent in traffic, average price of unleaded gasoline, and average annual auto insurance rates. “It ranked toward the bottom on just about every stat.”

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And the rest of the bottom 10? Maybe you have a story about driving in Baton Rouge, LA (No. 5); Rochester, NY (No. 7); Grand Rapids, MI (No. 8), or Jackson, MS (No. 10). They all suffered by comparison with 90 other major markets, according to Realtor.com.

“While owning a car is supposed to make your life easier, in these bottom-ranked metros, owners find themselves wondering if it’s really worth the hassle,” said Realtor.com.

On the bright side, Realtor.com ranked Colorado Springs, CO, No. 1, because “road-tripping through breathtaking mountain roads” make the city “a pretty tough place to beat.”

Others making the website’s Top 10 list are:

(2) Des Moines, IA

(3) Salt Lake City, UT

(4) Richmond, VA

(5) Dayton, OH

(6) Denver, CO

(7) Wichita, KS

(8) Boise, ID

(9) Raleigh, NC

(10) Virginia Beach, VA

“More than ever, American cities are dividing into the automotive haves and have-nots,” said Realtor.com in its report on the survey, “the places where wide open highways, beautiful drives, and crisp, fresh air make road trips a pleasure … and those where traffic, road rage, and abysmal drivers transform the simple act of commuting into a very [bad experience].”

Here’s hoping that you mostly drive in the former – or cities like them – rather than the latter.

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