With car sales up 9% in the first quarter of 2021, in part due to fear of public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report on 2021’s Best & Worst Cities to Drive in, offers the best places in the country to drive.
And determine those most driver-friendly places in the U.S., WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 30 key metrics. The data set ranges from average gas prices to annual hours in traffic congestion per auto commuter to auto-repair shops per capita.
|Best Cities for Driving||Worst Cities for Driving|
|1. Raleigh, NC||91. San Bernardino, CA|
|2. Lincoln, NE||92. Washington, DC|
|3. Greensboro, NC||93. Baltimore, MD|
|4. Winston-Salem, NC||94. Los Angeles, CA|
|5. Corpus Christi, TX||95. Chicago, IL|
|6. Boise, ID||96. New York, NY|
|7. Jacksonville, FL||97. Philadelphia, PA|
|8. Scottsdale, AZ||98. San Francisco, CA|
|9. Tampa, FL||99. Detroit, MI|
|10. Austin, TX||100. Oakland, CA|
Best vs. Worst
- Chula Vista, California, has the lowest traffic fatality rate (per 100,000 residents), 2.55, which is 7.8 times lower than in Memphis, Tennessee, the city with the highest at 19.97.
- Irvine, California, has the fewest car thefts (per 1,000 residents), 0.56, which is 20.7 times fewer than in Oakland, California, the city with the most at 11.61.
- San Antonio has the lowest average gas price, $2.66 per gallon, which is 1.7 times lower than San Francisco, the city with the highest at $4.40 per gallon.
- Hialeah, Florida, has the lowest average parking rate, $0.90 per two hours, which is 38.7 times lower than in Boston, the city with the highest at $34.80 per two hours.
Here are some further tips for drivers from experts in the industry.
What money-saving tips do you have for drivers, as gas prices have been on an upward trend over the last few months?
“The best way to save on gas costs is to drive less, although it might not be possible for all. The second-best way is to get a more fuel-efficient car. If you are driving an older car, it was subjected to a less stringent fuel economy standard. A 2021 model car is built under a 20% – 40% higher miles per gallon (MPG) requirement than a similar car of the 2012 model year. We also have fuller electric, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and hybrid vehicle options now than any time before in the history of the automobile. A person living in a typical US city currently driving a brand-new gasoline-powered SUV can expect between $500 – $1200 savings in vehicle fuel costs per year if they switch to a comparable electric SUV,” according to Shams Tanvir, Ph.D. , an assistant professor at California Polytechnic State University.
“In the short term, drivers can save money on fuel by using other transportation methods such as walking and biking for short trips, by accelerating less aggressively, and by properly maintaining their vehicles … In the longer term, switching to a more efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric vehicle, can save money and reduce the impact of increasing gas prices going forward,” added Elizabeth J. Traut, Ph.D., and assistant research professor at The Pennsylvania State University.
How will the COVID-19 pandemic change traffic levels and the way Americans commute?
“I think we will see less long-distance daily commuting for white-collar jobs. You will still have travel demand for service and industrial jobs, but this is less peaked; hopefully, this lessens the importance of the peak hour in highway facility design,” explains
Gregory Macfarlane is an assistant professor at Brigham Young University.
“The statistics in the past 1.5 years show that the overall traffic is down by about 10% due to the reduced commute traffic by working remotely. In my opinion, that trend will likely continue. However, we should not lose sight of the increased freight (truck) traffic due to sharply increased online shopping and e-commerce demand…Although the overall traffic might go down slightly, the traffic composition would change to have a greater proportion of heavier and dirtier vehicles, which might worsen safety, congestion, energy consumption, and emission,” said Jane Lin, Ph.D., professor at the University of Illinois Chicago.
What can local authorities do to reduce traffic and improve safety?
“Drivers benefit from reduced traffic when local governments provide robust transit options, including frequent service and good geographic coverage, and encourage people to use them. Pricing parking appropriately to ensure that spots are usually available can also reduce traffic caused by searching for a spot and make door-to-door travel times more reliable,” Traut added.
“To reduce traffic, we either eliminate the need for some trips or provide competitive alternative means of travel that have higher passenger miles of travel. For the former, better land-use planning will go a long way in shaping travel demand and patterns. For the latter, local authorities need to invest in innovative, fast, and flexible, comfortable, safe, and convenient transit services as competitive alternatives to personal vehicles,” Lin said.