How Bad Is Indianapolis Traffic?

Traffic in Indianapolis isn’t usually too bad unless you hit the road during rush hour or around the Indy 500.
Written by Joshua Levy
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Traffic isn’t typically too bad in Indianapolis, but drives are typically 12% longer on average than they would be without traffic. While that may seem like a lot, it’s relatively low for such a big and active city. 
As one of
’s biggest hubs of modern innovation, Indianapolis deals with constant renovations and sees thousands of visitors each year. As a result, it’s fairly common to find the city backed up with traffic—especially during rush hour.
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How bad is Indianapolis traffic?

While traffic in Indianapolis isn’t typically too bad, you should avoid driving during rush hour.
While the average car ride won’t be too severely impacted, driving in the morning rush hour (between 7:00 am and 9:00 am) could slow your commute by as much as 18%! That means if you were making a one-hour trip, you’d likely be on the road for an extra 10 minutes. 
Alternatively, driving in the afternoon rush hour (4:30 pm to 6:00 pm) could slow your drive by up to 30%. If we use our example from before, that means an hour-long drive would turn into one hour and 20 minutes on the road. Of course, if you simply avoid driving at peak hours, you shouldn’t have any trouble on the road.

What causes traffic in Indianapolis?

Some cities face major changes every day that cause enormous amounts of traffic. But Indianapolis is relatively traffic-free compared to those cities. Of course, Indianapolis is still a hub of city traffic, and these are the biggest reasons why.

Work commutes 

Indianapolis is a big city for commuters. Workers come from far and wide for jobs, and many of them commute every single day. As a result, the mornings and afternoons are prime times for traffic in Indianapolis. 
Just like everybody comes into the city each morning, everyone leaves at the same time each afternoon—leaving the streets clogged and congested for a few hours every day.

Indy 500

As the home of one of the United States’ biggest car racing events (the
Indy 500
), Indianapolis can face major traffic jams when racing time comes around. Almost every year, more than 100,000 people come to Indianapolis from all over the U.S. to see the Indy 500. During that time, locals and visitors alike can expect an enormous increase in normal traffic delays. 
Luckily for locals, and sadly for fans, the Indy 500 only comes around once a year. Any major changes in traffic flow as a result of the event are only temporary and never last for more than a few days.
MORE: Indiana electric vehicle incentives
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How to navigate Indianapolis traffic like a pro

Indianapolis may not be a center of major traffic, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you get stuck on a road. And, as we all know, it can get hard to keep your cool when you’re sitting behind the wheel. 
Luckily, you can reduce the risk of
road rage
and keep your sanity intact by taking a few simple steps to make the drive a little easier. Here are a few tricks for managing Indianapolis traffic:  
  • Time your drives. Since Indianapolis traffic peaks in the morning and afternoon rush hours, you can skip most of the traffic by planning your commute accordingly. If you have a flexible work situation or the ability to work from home in the mornings or afternoons, you can usually avoid hitting any major traffic.
  • Skip the major streets. While it may be easiest to take I-65, I-70, or I-465 when you’re driving home from work, those areas are typically the most congested in all of Indianapolis. If you want to skip over the traffic, try planning your routes through small streets and backroads. With a little trial and error, you may be able to get home without hitting major traffic along the way. 
  • Traffic apps. Using traffic apps to navigate home can be helpful, specifically if you use a different one from most other drivers. While many people using the same app will likely be instructed to take the same route, using an alternative navigation tool could help you circumvent the flow of traffic. 
  • Lean into it. Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid the traffic. While that may sound like a terrible truth, you can easily make your time in the car worthwhile—or even fun! Try downloading podcasts or e-books ahead of time, so you can use your traffic time effectively. It won’t help you skip the traffic, but it can make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable. 
MORE: The 3 best apps for avoiding traffic jams

Prepare for Indianapolis traffic by updating your car insurance

Traffic isn’t only annoying—it’s dangerous. With more cars on the road being driven by tired people, tensions tend to rise along with the likelihood of a
car accident
. Luckily, you can stay financially protected in the case of an accident by finding the car insurance you need with
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Indianapolis has big streets and a relatively low risk of traffic. So it’s not typically too difficult to drive in. But many of the streets are known for poor upkeep, and traffic gets much worse around the Indy 500. That said, driving in Indianapolis is usually pretty easy, but it can get harder if you hit the road at the wrong time.
The best time to drive through Indianapolis is between rush hours—or between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm. But you’ll typically get the least amount of traffic before rush hour starts at 7:00 am or after it ends at 6:00 pm.
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