Traffic offenses: What road congestion does to our air

Released: 
March 18, 2013

U.S. traffic congestion resulted in cars spewing an extra 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2012.

There is nothing good to say about rush hour traffic, but it’s bad on many levels. Beyond what it does to drivers’ nerves, U.S. traffic congestion spewed an extra 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2012. That’s about 380 pounds per auto commuter. Traffic backups also wasted 2.9 billion gallons of gas – enough to fill up 4 New Orleans Superdomes.

Washington, DC has the worst traffic in the country – despite an extensive mass transit system including the nation’s second-most-used subway (behind New York). Both transit and personal vehicles contribute to carbon dioxide air pollution. Most transit buses use diesel fuel.

Check out our infographic for more on dirty driving. See “What Do Others Say?” for more views, then add to the discussion below. What’s the answer? More roads, or more public transit?