How Bad Is Harrisburg Traffic?

Traffic in Harrisburg isn’t as bad as in Philadelphia, but the average driver still loses about 23 hours to rush hour each year.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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Though traffic in Harrisburg is light, the average driver still spends about 23 hours sitting in rush hour year.
It might not be as bad as the City of Brotherly Love, but traffic in the capital of
Pennsylvania
is enough to drive some folks crazy. If you travel through
Harrisburg
during your daily commute or cross the Susquehanna River on your way to work each day, you need the inside scoop on the city’s traffic.
That’s where the revolutionary
car insurance
super app
Jerry
comes in. We’re here to answer the big questions on road conditions in Harrisburg, including the factors that cause gridlock, how  COVID-19 has impacted traffic, and what you can do to navigate the city like a pro.
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How bad is Harrisburg traffic?

Harrisburg is the fourth worst city for traffic in the state of Pennsylvania after
Philadelphia
,
Pittsburgh
, and
Allentown
. The 23 hours that the average driver in Harrisburg spends twiddling their thumbs at the wheel adds about $562 in annual fuel costs—enough to make anyone’s skin crawl!
In recent years, the COVID pandemic has reduced the amount of congestion on the streets, as people spend more time at home and working remotely. Even with the reduced traffic, though, folks in Harrisburg can still get stuck in some pretty bad cases of gridlock.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why.

Why is Harrisburg traffic so bad?

Bad traffic, no matter where you are, comes down to a combination of population size, road infrastructure, and the habits of local drivers. Here’s how those factors come into play in Harrisburg.

Population size 

Harrisburg isn’t large—with a population of just 50,000, it’s the 15th most populous city in Pennsylvania. However, all of those people are jam-packed into a small area, resulting in a population density of 4,200 people per square mile. That’s higher than urban hotspots like
Dallas
and
Houston
!

Major chokepoints

Of course, traffic isn’t just about the number of people on the roads; it’s also about the distribution of drivers on the streets. In Harrisburg, there are a few bottlenecks where lanes become narrow and cars can pile up. Try to avoid these chokepoints for a smooth and stress-free daily commute:
  • Market Street
  • Pennsylvania 581
  • Carlisle Pike
  • Orrs Bridge Road
  • 2nd Street

Driving habits

The average daily commute in Harrisburg is 20 minutes, which is much better than the national average of 26 minutes. A shorter commute means less time on the road, which helps keep traffic in Harrisburg from getting out of hand.
MORE: The best type of car insurance to get if you commute long distances
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How to navigate Harrisburg traffic like a pro

Even in a town where traffic isn’t terrible, there are some easy ways to avoid gridlock. We’ve put together our top tips to help you avoid traffic-induced
road rage
(and the
increased insurance payments
that come with it!) as you tackle the Harrisburg roads.
Keep these in mind the next time you roll down I-83:
  • Try to miss rush hour. The streets get congested between 6:30 and 9 aM and 3 and 6 PM. If possible, aim to start your first commute at 6 AM or earlier and head home either before or after the afternoon rush.
  • Get to know the backroads. Backroads can be a life-saver if you need to get around traffic, roadwork, or an accident. If you familiarize yourself with the area, you might be able to find a shortcut through the city that will save you a few minutes each day.
  • Stay up-to-date with traffic conditions. Tune into 910 AM or WHP 580 to get a traffic report or download
    Google Maps
    or
    Waze
    for live road conditions.
  • Stay focused on the road. Sometimes, traffic jams are unavoidable. If you get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, do your best to
    avoid distractions
    and
    practice safe driving
    to stay out of accidents and keep your insurance payment low.

Prepare for Harrisburg traffic by updating your car insurance

Remember that number we mentioned earlier, about the average Harrisburg driver losing $562 to fuel costs each year? Well, we’ve got a way for you to make back those losses and then some—and it’s quick, easy, and convenient.
All you need to do is download
car insurance
shopping super app
Jerry
and complete the 45-second sign-up. Jerry will find you the lowest quotes from over 50 top national insurers. After that, it’s up to you to pick your favorite policy and our team of experienced insurance agents will finalize your switch for you. 
Here’s the icing on the cake, though: the average Jerry user saves $887 a year on car insurance—more than enough to make up for that time sitting in traffic!
Jerry
had a super simple app that was easy to navigate. And their terrific customer service made everything even easier. Plus I saved $700 in a single year.” —Lucia M.
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FAQs

All in all, driving in Harrisburg isn’t too bad, but it can get a bit busy on the streets during rush hour. Plan ahead and take it slow to make sure that you get where you’re going safely.
You can try to miss rush hour on the weekdays by leaving before 6:30 AM or after 6 PM. The roads tend to stay clear on the weekends, so aim to drive through Harrisburg on a Saturday or Sunday if you’re planning a road trip!
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