How Bad Is Bakersfield Traffic?

Bakersfield is the 24th worst traffic city in the United States, with an average of 65 hours lost to congestion in 2021.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
In 2021, Bakersfield drivers lost an average of 65 hours in traffic, according to recent data collected by TomTom. It is the 24th most congested city in the United States.
Bakersfield, California
is a city in Kern County. Since it is the home of country music singers Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, Bakersfield has earned the nickname of the country music capital of the West Coast.
, the top-rated car insurance broker app, is here to share the traffic details of California’s city of country music. We’ll look at Bakersfield traffic statistics, the change in driving trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tips on driving in and around congestion. 

How bad is Bakersfield traffic?

According to
TomTom's US Traffic Index
, Bakersfield traffic is ranked 24th in the United States for time lost in traffic. The report also shows that Bakersfield drivers spent an average of 65 hours in traffic in 2021, with the cost of congestion around $110 per auto commuter
These numbers are higher than the previous year due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lifting and people getting back to the office. However, there’s still less time lost compared to the figure in 2019.
Hours lost to congestion
77 hours
61 hours
65 hours
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Why is Bakersfield traffic so bad?

City traffic can suddenly become gridlocked thanks to a city’s population, infrastructure, and the driving habits of the residents. Below are a few elements that have worsened traffic conditions in Bakersfield. 

Population size 

Bakersfield is the 9th most populous city in California and the 48th most populated city in the country. With over 403,000 residents and almost 95% of this population driving alone or carpooling, it’s no wonder that Bakersfield’s roads can be overwhelmed with congestion.

Major chokepoints

Roads within the city seem to be the most notable traffic hotspots, including F Street, 21st Street, Golden State Avenue, Union Avenue, and California Avenue. Interestingly, local testimonies indicate that traffic is noticeable but is minimal. Rush hour is congested but the traffic doesn’t come to a standstill.

Driving habits

Although Bakersfield’s population density is only 2,693 people per square mile, the city is a significant hub for agriculture and energy production. As a result, this can lead to increased large vehicles on the roads which can cause congestion and bottlenecks on roads with only one or two exits. Surprisingly, commuting only takes around 22.6 minutes on average, which is lower than the national average—however, it may take longer with more cars on the road during rush hour.
MORE:The best type of car insurance to get if you commute long distances
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How to navigate Bakersfield traffic like a pro

Traffic and
road rage
often go hand in hand. Being stuck in traffic is stressful, especially if other drivers aren’t being careful. However, road rage can greatly increase the risk of traffic accidents as angry drivers are predisposed to making rash decisions.
According to data from the
California Office of Traffic Safety
, 2,022 crashes were fatal or caused injuries in 2019. No matter how serious a collision is, the parties involved will feel the impact physically and financially. For one, getting into any accident will
significantly raise a driver’s insurance premiums
The collision statistics in Bakersfield aren't the highest in the state but avoiding the city’s worst congestion points will help lower your risk. These tips will help you navigate the roads safely to protect yourself physically and financially: 
  • Steer clear of rush hour where possible. Bakersfield’s rush hours are 6:00 am to 9:00 am and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the evening. If these are the only times you can drive, try to avoid driving at the peak of rush hour from 7:00 am to 8:00 am and 3:00 to 5:00 pm
  • Take back roads when you can. Getting around Bakersfield through the highly congested roads can increase your commute time significantly. Try to drive on less busy, smaller roads that can lead to your destination instead to save on time and fuel.
  • Use a traffic app or listen to the radio to stay ahead of the unexpected. Tune into 96.1 FM or 1560 AM for the latest traffic reports and updates. You can also use apps like Google Maps to monitor the traffic in real-time and make adjustments to your route accordingly.
  • Stay focused. You will still get stuck in traffic eventually. While waiting,
    avoid distractions
    like food, loud music, or using your cell phone. You should also maintain distance from other cars and watch the drivers around you to avoid collisions. 

Prepare for Bakersfield traffic by updating your car insurance

Commuting through traffic-dense areas in Bakersfield greatly increases your chances of getting into a collision—at fault or not. When you regularly
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Driving in Bakersfield can be stressful if you’re not used to severe traffic, but locals usually don’t experience gridlock traffic. You can minimize the stress of getting stuck in traffic by keeping your GPS navigation system on standby and minimizing distractions.
It’s best to drive through the city before 6:00 am, after 6:00 pm, or between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm to avoid rush hour.
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