How Bad Is Denton Traffic?

Denton, TX traffic shares a lot in common with the rest of the DFW Metroplex.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Situated on the Northwest edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metroplex, Denton shares much in common with DFW where traffic is concerned. This means Denton drivers experience the same average loss of 39 hours to traffic congestion each year.
The DFW Metroplex is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S., and outlying cities like Denton see a proportionately large percentage of those population increases. As of the last census, Denton was the seventh-fastest-growing city in the U.S.
Whether you’re one of the thousands of people planning a move to Denton or just visiting the metroplex, we have everything you need to navigate DFW traffic and tips for how to avoid the worst of it.
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How bad is Denton traffic?

With just over 100,000 residents, Denton may sound like it wouldn’t have bad traffic, but its location right at the I-35 split means it sees more than its fair share of the Metroplex’s 7.5 million residents on their daily commutes. 
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked #37 for worst traffic on the
2021 Global Traffic Scorecard
, and all of those drivers headed south on I-35 have to come through Denton to get to the rest of the Metroplex. This leads to Denton drivers losing an average of 39 hours per year to traffic congestion.
In 2021, the Metroplex’s average rate of traffic congestion was 17%. This was up from 2020’s COVID-induced average of only 15%. Congestion levels have yet to return to their pre-COVID high of 19% in 2019, but they’re well on their way.
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Why is Denton traffic so bad?

From individual driving habits to a city’s infrastructure, there’s a lot that contributes to a city’s traffic conditions. Here are a few reasons Denton’s traffic gets so bad.

Commuter population

Compared to the Metroplex’s 7.5 million residents, Denton’s population of 100,000 seems tiny. However, I-35 splits just as it comes through Denton, and that means no matter what part of the Metroplex they're headed for, anyone traveling south on I-35 has to come through Denton first.

Major chokepoints

Unless you’re able to take advantage of express and carpool lanes on I-35, it’s going to be a nightmare. 
In addition, 380, known as University Drive in Denton, is one of the most congested stretches of road in the state of Texas. It’s not only a major east-west thoroughfare for the state but for Denton’s local traffic as well, leading to congestion throughout the week and on the weekend. 
Traffic on 380 is made even worse by those looking to avoid congestion on I-35, by cutting through Denton on 77, causing the intersection of 380 and 77 to see almost constant congestion.

Driving habits

Denton is the seventh-fastest growing city in the U.S., and that means a lot of new residents getting to know some already congested roads all at once. Add to this that Denton is just one part of the fourth most populous metro area in the U.S., and you have the recipe for a driving disaster.
DFW has spent millions on public transit initiatives, but many of those don’t actually extend past the Dallas and Fort Worth city limits. That means even those who do take advantage of these green options have to first drive through Denton to do so, and over 80% of them make that drive alone.

How to navigate Denton traffic like a pro

One of the best ways to navigate traffic in any city is to get to know its traffic patterns. While this may sound easy, traffic patterns aren’t as simple as just knowing when rush hour is, especially in a city like Denton. So here are a few tips to help you navigate Denton traffic like a pro:
  • Steer clear of rush hour if possible. Rush hour is returning to metropolitan areas with a vengeance, so avoid major thoroughfares from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. during the week. 
  • Take side roads when you can. In Denton, if it's not I-35, 77, or 380 (University Drive), it’s a side road. That means you can often shave a bit of time off your commute if you stay off these major sources of traffic congestion.
  • Use a traffic app.
    TomTom
    ,
    Google maps
    , and
    Waze
    all offer apps that allow you to see real-time traffic information with suggestions to avoid traffic snarls. Local news stations in the DFW metro also offer individual apps that support traffic updates.
  • Stay calm, stay focused, and stay back. It’s inevitable: you’re going to find yourself stuck in traffic at some point if you’re driving in Denton or anywhere else in the Metroplex. The best thing you can do is stay calm, stay focused on the task (rather than your phone), and be sure to allow some space between you and the car in front of you.

Prepare for Denton traffic by updating your car insurance

The last thing you need to do before heading into Denton traffic is to make sure you update your
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FAQs

Any city can be difficult to drive in, but as commuters funnel through Denton and into the Metroplex each day, it gets more complicated here than in other places. Get yourself a good navigation system, and allow yourself enough time to complete your trips, and you should be just fine.
Especially during the week, but even on the weekends, the best times for driving in Denton are before 7:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. The hours between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. see lighter traffic than rush hour, but it’s still heavier than usual.
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