These 15 Cities Make Life Miserable for People Who Drive

You can’t really talk about quality of life¬†without talking about transportation. Most Americans drive to work every day, and the commutes people endure can make or break your mood.

However, there’s more to driving than wasting time in traffic. When you add in the cost of owning a car, potential for accidents, and the hassle of parking, it really takes some doing to enjoy driving these days.

In a July 2018 study by WalletHub, we see places where owning a car is affordable (Raleigh) and traffic is minimal (Corpus Christi) ranking among the best cities for drivers. (America’s 100 largest cities were considered for the study.)

On the other side of the ledger were places where traffic is unbearable and everything is either expensive or dangerous for car owners. Here are the 15 cities that will make life miserable for drivers in 2018.

15. Honolulu

Honolulu, Hawaii

View from above Honolulu | Maximkabb/iStock/Getty Images

  • If the price of having a car doesn’t get you, the traffic will.

Out of the 100 largest cities in America, Honolulu ranked 85th for cost of ownership and 79th for traffic. In recent years, 75-minute commutes have been normal, and city residents pay some of the highest vehicle maintenance costs in America as of 2018.

14. San Bernardino, CA

  • Car repair is expensive and maintenance gtes tedious here.

In San Bernardino, drivers don’t have traffic as bad as L.A. or frightening accident rates likd Baltimore. However, it’s very expensive to keep your car and a hassle to maintain it.

For example, the dusty city has some of the fewest car washes per capita. Meanwhile, high stolen car rates can put owners on edge.

13. San Jose

  • It’s expensive. Traffic is bad, too.

Among America’s 100 largest cities, only two places had higher gas prices than San Jose. Overall, it’s just very expensive to own or lease a car here.

If that doesn’t get you down, Bay Area traffic will.

12. Baltimore

  • You’re most likely to crash your car in Baltimore.

In the safety category, only a handful of cities ranked worse than Baltimore (95th). That means car thefts, bad driving, and other scary road events are the norm here.

Meanwhile, Baltimore was tied for the highest accident rate in the country.

11. Washington, D.C.

  • Lots of traffic, lots of accidents

These days, heavy traffic leads to distracted driving, which leads to more accidents. You might call that the unholy trinity of driving headaches for D.C. drivers.

Everyone knows the traffic here is horrendous. With cell phones in every driver’s hand, this factor probably has something to do with The District’s high accident rate.

10. Chicago

Chicago Skyline

Sea traffic isn’t quite as bad in Chicago. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Call it the 99th percentile for traffic.

There are few things as spiritually draining as sitting in traffic, and Chicago is just about the worst big city in the country (99th) for that.

Meanwhile, only a handful of cities had higher parking fees. If city officials are trying to discourage people from driving, it’s not working.

9. Los Angeles

  • If you don’t like accidents, high gas prices, or spending eternity in traffic, L.A.’s not for you.

There’s a lot to love about L.A. What everyone hates about the city is the traffic, and every study agrees it’s terrible.

However, WalletHub’s study pointed out a few other things that sting L.A. drivers regularly, including high gas prices and way-above-average accident rates.

8. Newark

  • Lot of traffic, unsafe conditions, and pricey maintenance costs are the norm.

When a city lands in the 10 worst on a list like this, many things are going wrong at the same time. In Newark’s case, some of the nation’s worst traffic combines with unsafe conditions to make commuters’ lives miserable.

Meanwhile, it’s not cheap to keep a car here, either.

7. New York

  • It’s the city with the worst traffic and the highest cost of ownership.

Whether you go by hours spent in traffic, roads per capita, or quality of streets, New York is the worst. Meanwhile, it’s also one of the most expensive places to park. ($4-per -hour street parking is status quo in downtown Manhattan.)

If that doesn’t turn you off from getting a car here, the nation’s highest cost of ownership should.

6. Boston

A typical day of Boston traffic | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

  • Traffic in Boston is as bad as it seems. So are the chances of getting into an accident.

There are a lot of things that should discourage people from driving in Boston. First, it’s tied for Baltimore and D.C. for the greatest likelihood of getting into an accident.

But it gets worse. Once you have that accident, Boston has the fewest repair shops — and the ones that exist are expensive. Oh, and parking fees are high, too.

5. Seattle

  • Expensive, rainy, and full of traffic

If the high maintenance costs (99th) don’t get you in Seattle, the congestion (88th) and rainy streets (98th) will. Overall, it’s one of the places where drivers suffer the most to get from Point A to Point B.

4. Philadelphia

  • Stolen cars, expensive repairs, and traffic are all part of Philly driving.

Philly’s early-morning commute is one of the worst in the country, and things don’t get better as the day goes on.

For example, the city’s high accident rate and light penalties for a DUI keep you on your toes. If you do end up dinged by another driver, repairs are expensive.

3. Oakland

  • Drivers in Oakland have to make sure the locks and car alarms work.

With the highest rate of stolen cars, astounding cost of ownership (gas, repairs), and heavy traffic, there’s little upside to owning a car in Oakland.

If there’s any way to take public transportation for most trips, that would be the way to go.

2. San Francisco

  • You won’t pay more to maintain a car anywhere in America.

Out of the 100 biggest cities in the country, San Francisco ranked 100th for cost of vehicle ownership. You’ll get stung by the country’s highest gas prices as well as above-average repair fees and parking costs.

No wonder electric cars, which are cheaper to maintain and cost less to fuel, have caught on so much in San Francisco.

1. Detroit

  • Dangerous driving and stolen cars dragged The Motor City down.

Though Detroit didn’t score worst of all in any category, it came awful close for road safety (99th) and traffic/infrastructure (94th).

The safety component includes hard-braking events, traffic fatality rates, and stolen car rates, the last of which Detroit tied for worst in America.

Meanwhile, it’s not cheap to gas up or otherwise maintain a car in The Motor City.

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