Unsurprisingly, Newark and Jersey City Rank High for Worst Cities to Drive in Nationwide

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The Heights Central Avenue Jersey City
Heavy traffic along Central Avenue in The Heights, Jersey City. Photo by Jared Kofsky/Jersey Digs.

The love story between Americans and their cars is long and storied, but a new study shows that driving in two Garden State cities might make commuters feel like they’re in a bad romance.


A new study released this month from Washington, D.C.-based WalletHub breaks down the best and worst places to drive across the country using a variety of criteria. The data set includes factors like traffic and infrastructure, average gas prices, annual hours in congestion per auto commuter, and auto-repair shops per capita.

Ranking the 100 largest cities across 30 indicators of driver-friendliness, the study determined that Newark was the 5th worst city for auto users. In terms of our region, New York City was not too far behind at ninth-worst while Jersey City ranked #20, just ahead of Boston, Massachusetts.

The worst marks for the tri-state area’s cities come from the total traffic and infrastructure data set. Jersey City ranked 98 out of the 100 largest places, while Newark came in at 97 and New York clocked in dead last at 100.

The study also revealed that Jersey City apparently doesn’t have a ton of places to get your car cleaned, as it ranked in the bottom five for car washes per capita. Weighing all of WalletHub’s factors, the worst overall city for driving in the country is more than a little ironic. Often dubbed Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, was ranked the worst for drivers.

The good news for New Jersey’s urban dwellers is that while the roads are congested, a significant portion of the population isn’t on them as part of their daily commute. According to an American Community Survey that’s conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 47.6% of Jersey City residents take public transit to work. That ranked second among cities with a population of 100,000 or greater.

The same survey estimates that 26.4% of Newark residents take mass transit to work, which is good for 8th nationally. The New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan region is tops in the country when it comes to mass transit use, as 31% of the working population uses it to commute to work.

The best cities to drive in tend to be in the South and Midwest regions of the country, with Raleigh, North Carolina, topping the list. The study concluded that the country’s drivers spend an average of more than 310 hours annually on the road, which adds up to a total of nearly 13 days.

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