The 5 Cities with the Worst Traffic

Sure, you may infinitely argue that your city has the worst traffic imaginable. And sure, it might actually be pretty bad. But there’s some places out there which have traffic problems that are even beyond the scope of our worst nightmares. Let’s take a look:

5. Istanbul

worst traffic

Istanbul, Turkey. Source: Wikimedia user Reise Reise.

You know you’ve got a traffic problem on your hands when you can set up shop in the middle of the freeway for hungry and dehydrated drivers. Sadly, I’m not exaggerating — this has happened before, even if it’s not particularly common in Turkey. However, it looks like that is what’s happening in this picture.

Driving in Istanbul is a terrible and deadly experience for multiple reasons. Probably the most obvious issue is that the roads just can’t handle all of the traffic. The population of the city has boomed into 12-million resident metropolis over the past decades, and the number of cars are increasing even more rapidly than the number of people.

And to call Istanbul drivers reckless is apparently a severe understatement. Just to name a few adjectives, I’ve heard Istanbul drivers to be “unpredictable,” “aggressive,” and “impatient.” Overall, it’s just not a good place to have to drive in.

4. Los Angeles

Maybe some of you expected Los Angeles to be higher up on the list, maybe not — however, it’s generally agreed upon that traffic problems are pretty awful. According to TomTom’s latest “congestion index,” traffic in Los Angeles is not only the worst city in the United States traffic-wise, but also one of the worst in the world.

The cause of this can probably be explained by the textbook definition of urban sprawl. Millions of commuters live in suburbs and far away from where they work, and thus they always have to drive there, causing severe traffic problems.

3. Beijing

Beijing, China. Source: Flickr user basykes.

Beijing, China. Source: Flickr user basykes.

It’s no question that Beijing has had more than its fair share of abysmal traffic jams. Heck, there’s even a Wikipedia article for one of them. The jam went on for over 60 miles and lasted for more than ten days. Just let that resonate for a bit. Have you ever been in a traffic jam that bad? No, you haven’t — this jam was so enormous that it spawned a mini-economy, with locals near the highway selling food and water to the stranded drivers at ridiculous prices. Sadly, traffic problems are quite common throughout the city — even if they’re not quite to this extent.

The problem in Beijing can probably be accredited to heavy industrialization, and again, sprawl. The roads can’t handle all of the sudden additional traffic they’re getting, and while road expansion tries to fix this problem, the construction just makes it worse.

2. São Paulo


Sao Paulo, Brazil. Source: Wikimedia user Mariordo.

Brazil probably doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of places around the world with bad traffic. However, it has one of the worst traffic situations in the world — according to Time, residents make time to shave, apply makeup, or even make dates while stuck in traffic. Drivers are informed of wait times through variable message signs. Overall, the situation is pretty horrific.

Like some of the other cities on this list, traffic is a problem because of the rising number of cars and drivers. With new financing available, residents can easily buy new cars and get jobs which require significant commutes.

1. Moscow

Moscow, Russia. Source: Wikimedia user Strober

Moscow, Russia. Source: Wikimedia user Strober.

Moscow — the worst city in the world in terms of traffic congestion, according to TomTom. On average, a Moscow driver spent 127 hours in traffic last year, not counting the normal time it takes to get from point A to B. As a matter of fact, the situation is so bad that some wealthy Russians are hiring ambulances to cut through the constant sea of stationary cars.

Why is the traffic so bad here, though? Well it’s been this way for a while, and the problem can probably be attributed to history. In short, by the end of the nineties, there were more people in Moscow from all over the former Soviet Union than there were when the Soviet Union was a single state, and they all wanted cars. And the city had no plan. Thus, Moscow is where it’s at today.

So, what do you think? Are there any cities which have particularly bad traffic that I left out? Do you have any experiences with driving in these cities that you’d like to share? Share your thoughts in the comments below! (And be sure to subscribe.)