Study: Detroit is the Worst Metro Area for Commuters in 2022

Metro Detroit is the worst city in the U.S. for commuters mostly due to the costs of driving in the area, according to a new study by the real estate website listwithclever.com.
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A real estate website says metro Detroit is the worst city in the U.S. for commuters mostly due to the costs of driving in the area. // Stock Photo
A real estate website says metro Detroit is the worst city in the U.S. for commuters mostly due to the costs of driving in the area. // Stock Photo

Metro Detroit is the worst city in the U.S. for commuters mostly due to the costs of driving in the area, according to a new study by the real estate website listwithclever.com.

Detroit edged more-congested metros like Atlanta, New York City, and Riverside and Los Angeles, California for the distinction as worst commuter region.

“Motor City surprised us by coming in last place,” writes Taelor Candiloro on the website. “Much of this is due to the high average annual car insurance cost and the high cost of commuting in general.

“The average Detroit resident spends a whopping $6,280 on car insurance every year – partly due to Michigan’s status as a no-fault state – and commuters spend 29 percent of their annual income traveling to and from work. But even so, Detroit isn’t nearly as congested as other metros: Residents lose 59 percent less time to traffic every year, spending just 13 hours in traffic annually versus 32 in the average city.”

People in Detroit, the website reports, pay an average of $12,801 to commute annually.

Drivers in San Francisco and New York also spend a lot per year on their commutes, averaging 47 percent more than the typical annual commute cost in the average city. Places like Detroit, Atlanta, and New York also have higher rates of traffic.

Listwithclever.com says it analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Census, the American Automobile Association, the Brookings Institute, INRIX, GasBuddy, and The Zebra to reach its conclusions.

“We found that the average commuter in the U.S. spends $8,466 and about 19 percent of their annual income on their commute every year,” writes Candiloro. “As part of that overall cost, the average commuter spends $867 on fuel and $410 on vehicle maintenance each year as a result of commuting. Additionally, the average driver in America loses 32 hours to traffic annually.

The website’s weighted rankings evaluated various criteria including:

  • 4x: How much of their income does the average commuter spend on commuting every year?
  • 2x: How much money does the average commuter spend on fuel per year?
  • 2x: How much money does the average commuter spend on maintenance per year?
  • 2x: How much potential income is lost to time spent commuting to work (opportunity cost)?
  • 1x: Average hours per year lost to traffic or congestion.
  • 1x: How far is the average commute in this metro?
  • 1x: The average annual cost of insurance in the metro area.
  • 1x: Average minutes spent commuting to work one-way.
  • 1x: Average MPH achieved during commute: Lower MPH means you’re spending a lot of time going a short distance.

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