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Summer Driving Stats: The Best and Worst Cities for Warm-Weather Road Trips

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author photo by Lindsay Martell July 2016

Ah, summer driving. The very phrase conjures up images of hitting up the drive-thru, blaring your favorite tunes and... sitting in traffic. Yes, it's that time of year again, when it seems like everyone is cashing in those vacation days and getting behind the wheel to do so at exactly the same time you are.

Hitting the Open Road vs. Sitting in Traffic

So how does your town rank in the best and worst cities for summer driving? The experts at WalletHub looked at a wide range of factors to rank the driver-friendliness of U.S. cities. With gas prices tending to inch upwards during the summer months and folks collectively losing about $124 billion in wasted time and fuel from sitting in traffic, the researchers put together a list of the best and worst cities for driving. Factors they looked at included the price to fuel up, the average annual hours of traffic delays and the number of auto-repair shops in a particular area.

Topping the list were two Arizona cities: Scottsdale took the No. 1 spot, followed by Tucson. Corpus Christi, Texas, came in third, followed by another spate of Arizona locales: Gilbert in fourth, Mesa in fifth and Chandler in sixth. Rounding out the top 10 were Reno, Nevada; Laredo, Texas; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

As for the cities that ranked as the worst for summer driving? Washington, D.C., got the lowest score, with Detroit, Michigan, coming in at No. 99. The Motor City is followed by San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Oakland, New York City, Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles.

Delays, Thefts and Repairs

The standout details? Lubbock, Texas, has the fewest average annual hours of traffic delays per car commuter, 12 to be exact. Washington, D.C., the city with the highest number of delay hours, has seven times that at 82.

Irvine, California, has the lowest rate of car thefts per 1,000 residents, 31 times lower than Oakland, the city with the highest.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, has the lowest average gas price, $2.04 per gallon, which is 1.5 times lower than in Chicago, the city with the highest average prices at $3.02 per gallon.

So, get out there and soak up those days off -- just know that everyone else will be hitting the highways, too.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Summer Driving Stats: The Best and Worst Cities for Warm-Weather Road Trips - Autotrader