Richie Bernardo, Senior Writer
Driving in New York (1=Best; 50=Avg.):
61st – Annual Hours Spent in Congestion per Auto
51st – Accident Likelihood in City vs. National Avg.
4th – Rate of Car Thefts
3rd – Auto-Repair Shops per Capita
73rd– Avg. Gas Prices
100th – Auto-Maintenance Costs
86th – Avg. Parking Rates
13th – Car Dealerships per Capita
Most Americans rely on cars to get around. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, “87 percent of daily trips take place in personal vehicles.” And even with growing access to public transportation in U.S. cities, most people still choose to travel by car mainly for reasons such as “comfort and reliability.”
In truth, however, driving is often a major hassle and expense. Drivers annually spend an average of 200 hours on the road, plus another 41 hours in gridlock. For a full time worker, that’s the equivalent of a six week vacation. Add the costs of wasted time and fuel due to traffic congestions, and our collective tab comes to about $124 billion annually, or $1,700 per household.
That figure doesn’t even include the additional $515 expense for maintenance and repairs which many of us are likely to spend given the poor quality of America’s roads. Our roads currently rank No. 14 out of 140 economically developed nations according to the World Economic Forum, and graded “D” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
But some cities are better for those behind the wheel. To determine those places, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 largest cities across 25 key indicators of driver friendliness. Our data set ranges from average gas prices to average annual hours of traffic delays to auto repair shops per capita. Read on for our findings, tips and insight from a panel of experts, and a full description of our methodology.
|overall rank (1=best)||CITY||Total Score||'Cost of Ownership & Maintenance' Rank||'Traffic & Infrastruture' Rank||'Safety' Rank||'Access to Vehicles & Maintenance' Rank|
|62||North Las Vegas,NV||52.83||79||11||31||98|
With cost, safety and environmental impact ranking among the top concerns for the auto industry, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
What money saving tips do you have for drivers now that gas prices have begun to bounce back?
When do you think there will be more self driving than human driven cars?
Considering all potential consequences, do you think that automated vehicles will be a net benefit or net negative for society?
When evaluating the best cities for drivers, what are the top five indicators?
What can local authorities do to reduce traffic and improve safety?
Susan Shaheen Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center and Director of the Innovative Mobility Research at the University of California Berkeley
There are a number of money saving tips that include eco-driving, proper vehicle maintenance, and trip chaining. First, drivers can drive in a way that minimizes fuel consumption. This can include a variety of techniques: reducing driving speeds, accelerating gradually, anticipating stops, and using the air conditioning (instead of rolling down windows).
Second, vehicle maintenance is an important aspect. Keeping vehicles properly maintained, and tires properly inflated can also help reduce fuel consumption. Finally, pairing trips and errands together (sometimes referred to as trip chaining), rather than making multiple separate trips, reduces overall driving distance, number of trips, and also saves time.
Part of the difficulty in answering this question is the varying levels of automation (e.g., Level 3 — "eyes off" vs. Level 4 — "mind off" vs. Level 5—"no human intervention required"). There is also the possibility that Level 4 and 5 vehicles will become a sizeable share of the fleet, but not permitted to operate autonomously right away.
For example, an automaker may sell Level 5 vehicles, but such vehicles are not permitted to operate without human intervention until specific legislative/regulatory reforms, a particular date in the future, etc. This would be similar to the rollout of HDTVs introduced in the late 1990s, where TV sets were introduced and people could buy a HDTV, but use it with standard definition. SDTV content did not end until 2014. This is also similar to how color TVs and programming were rolled out.
At this point, the impacts, user behavior, and adoption of automated vehicles are speculative. We do not know how the public will adopt these, and whether the impacts will be positive, negative, or a mix of both.
Will automated vehicles be shared, or will privately owned vehicles be replaced with privately owned automated vehicles?
What will be the average vehicle occupancy, and/or will zero occupant vehicles pose a real threat to congestion and traffic operations?
Will households downsize the number of private vehicles they own, sharing one privately owned automated vehicle?
Will automated vehicles be able to automatically avoid congestion, or will there be automated congestion similar to computer network bandwidth limitations?
The impacts of automated vehicles will likely have regional variations, and depend on a variety of local factors, such as demographics, land use, and density among others.
This is highly dependent on a variety of local and neighborhood factors. In some cases, some forms of shared mobility may be able to reduce traffic by reducing vehicle miles traveled, vehicle ownership, and facilitating first and last mile connections to public transportation.
In other cases, specific operational and infrastructure improvements may be more important to mitigating congestion and improving safety. This could include strategies, such as traffic signal coordination, signal prioritization for public transportation, and a variety of active transportation improvements such as crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes and
This will vary by the metrics adopted. Some metrics could include:
Cost to drive, either on a per mile, per month, or annual basis;
Average annual hours of traffic delays;
Average daily commute time;
Number of days of inclement weather: snow, ice, and precipitation;
Average roadway quality. There may be a number of ways to measure this, such as pavement cracking, for example.
Christian G. Claudel Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin
To reduce fuel expenses, here are a few tips:
Do not use a premium gasoline grade unless mandated by the vehicle. Most vehicles can run on regular gasoline (87). Using a higher grade does not bring any benefit in fuel consumption since the energy density of all gasoline grades is similar. Higher grades only have benefits for high compression ratio engines such as turbocharged engines, though most turbocharged engines can run on 87 gasoline.
Maintain your engine with regular oil changes to maintain its energy efficiency.
Drive in a non-aggressive manner: stop-and-go causes a considerable increase in relative fuel consumption, particularly in severe congestion.
Properly inflate your tires. Underinflated tires cause an increase in friction which increases consumption.
Predicting the future is always difficult: self driving vehicles have been around the corner since the 1960s, yet highly automated cars have only started to appear on the market. I anticipate that it may take a few decades for self driving vehicles to generalize, so I would think that self driving cars would become more prevalent than human driven vehicles around 2030-2040. There is always a lot of uncertainty in these predictions though; a key factor will be how fast the cost of the required sensors will decrease in the next decade.
I anticipate that automated vehicles will be a net benefit for society, provided that the correct policies are put in place. For example, a major issue is allowing vehicles to drive without a passenger which can increase traffic congestion overall. If all vehicles drive with passengers, there is also the issue of elasticity of demand: making travel easier will increase the number of trips which will load the transportation network even more.
However, in terms of performance, automated vehicles will greatly outperform humans with increase in road capacities of 50% or more according to recent simulations. More importantly, flows containing automated vehicles will be more stable, with less stop-and-go events provided that the correct control algorithms are implemented in automated vehicles, as shown in this piece.
Traffic safety will also improve, but currently humans are still better than most automated vehicles. For example, the Uber test vehicles have to be taken over every few minutes on average.
Automated vehicles are currently not as adaptable as humans.