How Bad Is Phoenix Traffic?

Despite being the fifth-largest city in the nation, Phoenix barely cracks the top 30 when it comes to having the worst traffic.
Written by John Pickhaver
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Despite being the fifth-largest city in the nation,
barely cracks the top 30 when it comes to having the worst traffic. Still, Phoenix drivers lost about 21 hours to congestion in 2021, according to a recent study—which makes Arizona’s capital the 26th US city with the worst traffic. 
, known as the Valley of the Sun, is a beautiful desert city adorned with its iconic cacti and stunning red sandstone formations. While it’s true the traffic may not be as terrible as in other places, Phoenix is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities, which means congestion levels may soon rise as fast as the city’s hot temperatures. 
To find out everything you need to know under the sun about Phoenix traffic, turn to
, the car insurance super app. We’ll review traffic statistics in Phoenix and provide some pointers for getting around this rapidly-growing desert city.

How bad is Phoenix traffic?

According to the
2021 Global Traffic Scorecard
, a massive international study of traffic trends, Phoenix traffic is the 26th worst in the United States. Transportation analysts estimated that the average Phoenix driver lost 21 hours to congestion in 2021, with a cost per driver of $321.50
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those figures are lower than in prior years with the exception of 2020, when COVID-19 lockdowns were at their peak. Phoenix traffic is starting to pick up again as drivers settle back into their normal commutes along with the lifting of many public health restrictions. 
Hours lost to congestion
37 hours
13 hours
21 hours
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Why is Phoenix traffic so bad?

There are several factors that contribute to a city’s overall traffic congestion. Some of the most common are the state of its infrastructure, the driving habits of its residents, and the city’s overall population. Let’s go through some of these factors. 

Notable traffic hotspots 

According to a ranking by the Arizona section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Phoenix roads are in solid shape and fair better than other areas in Arizona. However, with its population continuing to grow each year, more road work will likely be needed to keep up pace with the increase in commuters. 
According to reports, the following roads and highways often see the most congestion: 
  • 17 North (Black Canyon Fwy)
  • Union Hills Dr
  • Lake Pleasant Pkwy
  • Val Vista Dr
  • 19th Ave

Driving habits

Despite being one of the top five largest cities in the country, Phoenix is not an extremely dense city, with just 3,400 people per square mile. This leads to drivers often having long commutes across the city, which contributes to higher congestion levels. 

Population size 

The city of Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States with a population of 1.6 million people. If you factor in the greater metro population, that number climbs to 4.6 million people. Every day millions of motorists traverse Phoenix roads and freeways, contributing to the congestion drivers face during commuting hours. 
Yet, despite all of this recent census report data, Phoenix has the shortest average commute time of any major city, clocking in at around 25 minutes. 
MORE: The best type of car insurance to get if you commute long distances
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How to navigate Phoenix traffic like a pro

Bad traffic on the road can often lead to
rage on the road
, which contributes to a large percentage of car accidents. According to data from the
Arizona Department of Transportation
, the city’s overall crash rate went down in 2020, but the number of traffic deaths rose from 980 in 2019 to 1,057 in 2020, representing the highest levels in 12 years. 
Despite this unsettling increase, there are still ways to get around the worst of Phoenix’s high traffic. Check out these helpful tips to steer clear of congestion in the Valley of the Sun:
  • Stay alert. If you do find yourself stuck in traffic, practice safe driving behavior by
    avoiding distractions
    such as using your cell phone, eating, or playing loud music. Plus, remember to always leave enough space between you and other cars, especially when conditions are really jammed!
  • Use back roads when possible. Use your GPS to see if you can reach your destination using less-traveled roads instead of using major freeways. 
  • If possible, avoid rush hour. You may not be in control of your schedule, but if you have any flexibility, try to avoid peak Phoenix’s rush hour, which is typically between 7 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 6 pm.
  • Turn to a traffic app so you can plan ahead. The
    AZ511 app
    works in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Transportation to provide the latest information on conditions along the state highway system.
Key takeaway Avoiding traffic decreases your chances of getting in an accident. 

Prepare for Phoenix traffic by updating your car insurance

If your daily commute runs through Phoenix or your travel plans take you through the Valley of the Sun, it would be wise to
update your car insurance
to a policy that covers the types of accidents that can result in terrible traffic. 
The good news is
makes this process super simple. All you need to do is download the app, enter your info, and then in just 45 seconds, Jerry will deliver you customized quotes from top insurance carriers. Choose which policy works best for you and Jerry will handle the rest! No hassle, just savings!
How much savings? Jerry users save an average of $887 a year! That’s way more than the cost of sitting in Phoenix traffic each year! 
is a super straightforward process, and at each step, you can see exactly what coverage you’re paying for. Thanks to Jerry, I’m paying $900 less each year while keeping full coverage for my new car!” —Martin H.
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Phoenix has quality infrastructure and a good freeway system with plenty of lanes to help minimize traffic. But as one of the fastest-growing cities, Phoenix drivers come from all over the country, which isn’t always the best recipe for getting around smoothly.
If you want to avoid rush hour, it’s best to drive through the city between 11 am and 1 pm and from 6 pm on.
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