The Top 5 Worst Traffic Jams on Earth

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According to the Department of Transportation, the average American spends upwards of 35 hours a year sitting in traffic. Given that this is an average gleaned from all across the country, those of you living in places like Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston or Miami are probably scoffing (and honking your horns) at this relatively low number. Those of you from more rural areas are probably wondering how city folk could throw so much of their lives away. Regardless of where you live and how much of your life you spend in traffic, we think we can all agree that these jams put a little gridlock in perspective.

5 A Jam Thanks to a Stupid Stunt by a Stupid Band

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In 2010, a group of “musicians” pulled off one of the most thoughtless, ill-conceived publicity stunts in recent memory. The three members of the Imperial Stars (we assume they know what the word “Imperial” even means, because it’s not even rock n’ roll adjacent) climbed on top of a van in the middle of the CA 101 Freeway and began jamming away. This led to a mile-long backup and, fortunately, their arrests and a nearly $40,000 fine.

4 The Worst Traffic Jam in World History

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If you set out for a drive on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway in August of 2010, we hope you brought nearly two weeks of food and water along with you, because that’s how long some cars were stuck in history’s worst-ever traffic jam! More than 60 miles of roadway became choked with tens of thousands of cars for what became a 10+ day odyssey of gridlocked hell. The cause? Construction meant to ease congestion, of course.

3 The Worst Jam in American History

From the 15th to the 18th of August, 1969, Woodstock, N.Y. gained two notable distinctions: first, it became forever synonymous with the music and culture of the counter-culture; second, it “hosted” the worst traffic jam in U.S. history. The jam stretched for more than 20 miles and lasted for more days than the iconic concert itself. It was largely caused by music fans simply ditching their cars and heading for the venue on foot.

2 The Worst Traffic on Earth

L.A. has got nothing on the world’s worst traffic, it turns out. And no, the most jammed up city is not Beijing with its 20 million residents, nor is it Moscow, with its famously loose enforcement of traffic laws. It seems that lovely Brussels, Belgium, takes the cake when it comes to wasting motorists’ time. The average Belgian driver living in and around Brussels can expect to spend more than 80 hours in traffic a year.

1 The Worst Traffic in America

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Well, the torch has been passed once again, and Los Angeles has taken the dubious crown back from Honolulu as the American city with the worst traffic conditions. The average Angeleno’s commute is hampered by at least 30 minutes of traffic regardless of distance. L.A.’s population density ranks near the top of the domestic scale, and its public transit system is ranked near the bottom, so what do you expect, really?

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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