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Insta-Traffic: Traffic Posts on Instagram

#Traffic Header


We all hate it. We’re all a part of it. And every year it gets worse – especially in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.

Research suggests the average American now spends over 40 hours stuck in traffic each year, which may account for an increase in road rage.

So where is U.S. traffic at its worst? We turned to Instagram and analyzed more than 120,000 posts using the hashtags #Traffic, #TrafficSucks, and #TrafficJam to find out. Keep reading to see what we learned.

America’s Most Gridlocked States

States With Most Traffic-Related Instagram Posts

In 2015, there were more than 263 million cars registered in the U.S. Some days it feels as if every single one of them is on the road, slowing highways and city streets to a crawl.

But which states are the worst offenders? According to Instagram, D.C. was the most Instagram complaint-worthy offender by far (with 221 posts per 100,000 residents) – followed by New York (138), California (95), and Nevada (85) – a finding that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever tried to navigate D.C. during rush hour.

America’s Most Gridlocked Cities

Cities With The Most Traffic-Related Instagram Posts

It turns out, LA traffic really is some of the worst in the nation, and Instagrammers seem to agree. However, it’s not just LA that’s the problem; Santa Monica should probably take some of the blame as well. In fact, it had 993 Instagram posts per 100,000 residents with the hashtags #Traffic, #TrafficSucks, and #TrafficJam.

When it came to posts per capita, Miami Beach was nearly as bad (928), followed by Atlanta (584).

Going Somewhere? Think Again.

Gridlock on Instagram

In more than 120,000 #traffic Instagram posts, it wasn’t just states and cities that stood out but whole stretches of highway that frequently slowed to a crawl. The posts came in clusters and included the infamous Kennedy Expressway in Chicago, as well as plenty of stops along America’s most dangerous highways.

When Is American Traffic at Its Worst?

When Traffic Gets The Most Attention On Instagram

When it comes to complaining about epic traffic jams on Instagram, which day of the week and which month are we most likely to get horribly stuck? We took a look at the time stamps on more than 120,000 posts and found that the worst day of the week for traffic complaints was Friday, and the most relaxed day on the road was Sunday. Finally, Instagram posts about #traffic reached a fever pitch in February and October, while April was the least likely month for traffic-related posts.

A Deeper Look at America’s Most Congested Cities

With Santa Monica traffic finally hitting a tipping point, it took our top spot for most traffic-related posts on Instagram.

In 2015, Greater Miami and Miami Beach saw a whopping 15.5 million overnight visitors, and with more than 90,000 full-time residents, it’s no wonder Miami Beach was No. 2 on our list of the top five most gridlocked cities.

Perhaps thanks to having the world’s busiest airport and a growing tourism industry, Atlanta also ranked high for traffic-related posts on Instagram. The good news? A new streetcar just made downtown traffic optional.

San Francisco may frequently make it onto lists of the best places to live, best cities for young professionals, and the best places to live without a car, but not everything is rosy in this beautiful seaside metropolis. It ranked No. 5 for the most traffic-related Instagram posts.

New York City is known for being congested, but what’s causing all those backups? One theory is that there are now 4 times as many ride-sharing vehicles cruising the streets than yellow cabs.

On the Road in America

New car sales are soaring, meaning more cars are hitting our already gridlocked roads. According to Instagram, the worst of the traffic is clustered in a few key spots, particularly in booming, growing cities like D.C., LA, Atlanta, and Miami.

How can we avoid the congestion, clear the roads, and get moving again? Well, there are plenty of suggestions – like making cities more cycle-friendly, having better public transportation, and charging peak-hour tolls.

For now, though, there’s still the traffic to contend with. At least we have Instagram to let off some steam.


We analyzed 126,085 posts from 2011 to 2017 on Instagram using #Traffic, #TrafficSucks, and #TrafficJam to find the most congested cities in America.

NOTE: If you're a journalist interested in covering this project, we encourage you to use any of the graphics included above. We just ask that you attribute Auto Insurance Center fairly in your coverage and provide a link to this page so that your audience can learn more about our work. If you'd like to discuss this project, or any of our other research, reach out to us at [email protected].