How Bad Is Norfolk Traffic?

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Norfolk has a fairly high accident rate and population density, both of which contribute to its crowded roadways. On average, residents spend 58 hours sitting in traffic each year.
Many people travel near and far to Norfolk, Virginia for its historical attractions and beautiful beaches. As the third-largest city in Virginia and home to the world’s largest naval base, this city stays busy—and so do its highways. 
With the help of Jerry, the car insurance comparison genius app, we’ll dive into all things traffic in Norfolk. This guide covers the factors that affect traffic, how to best navigate the city, and how to find a great car insurance policy that protects Norfolk drivers. 
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How bad is Norfolk traffic?

Long traffic delays are a common complaint among residents in Norfolk. And with an average of 58 hours lost sitting in traffic each year, it’s no wonder. 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that number dropped significantly—from 69 hours spent in traffic in 2019 to 48 hours in 2020. However, with fewer lockdowns and more people returning to similar daily habits of the pre-pandemic world, traffic congestion began to increase again in 2021.
YearHours lost to congestion
201969 hours
202048 hours
202158 hours

Why is Norfolk traffic so bad?

Traffic congestion can have a variety of causes, such as the city’s population density, the quality of the freeway system, accident rates, and more. Below are some factors that contribute to the high traffic congestion in Norfolk. 

Population size 

Norfolk is the third-largest city in Virginia, falling only behind Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. The population density is 4,509 people per square mile, significantly higher than the state average of 202 people per square mile. With that many people packed into a 96.4 square mile city, traffic jams and delays are bound to happen. 

Major chokepoints

The US 58 Midtown Tunnel seems to be a common area for traffic congestion in Norfolk. The use of this highway has drastically increased since it was first built. To make matters worse, it leads to Hampton Roads, which ranked in the top 40 for worst traffic congestion in the US. 
Some other roads in Norfolk that you may want to steer clear of are Grandby Street, Little Creek Road, and I-64. Commuters, travelers, and truck drivers often take these routes in and out of Norfolk, and as you can imagine, they get congested.

Driving habits

Residents of Norfolk reported many problems with the unsafe behaviors of other drivers on the road. Common complaints included improper merging and failing to maintain speed in the tunnel. That causes traffic to back up into the traffic, slowing commutes dramatically.

How to navigate Norfolk traffic like a pro

Traffic congestion in Norfolk can do more than simply put a damper on your mood. Unfortunately, accidents are a common occurrence when the roads get crowded. 
The accident rate in Norfolk is 28.1% higher than the national average, which makes this city a fairly dangerous place to drive. In 2019 the City of Norfolk found that the most common reasons for fatal car crashes were speeding and alcohol-related incidents. 
After knowing that, you might not be too eager to take your vehicle for a joy ride around Norfolk. However, the suggestions below can make for a much easier drive and help you navigate the streets of Norfolk like a pro:
  • Avoid peak driving hours if you can. Rush hour in Norfolk is 6 am to 8 am and 3 pm to 6 pm. If you make a daily commute to work, it might be difficult to avoid those times, but it will save you some time to avoid driving between 7-8 am and 5-6 pm
  • Take alternate routes when possible. Unless you want to swim to your destination, avoiding the Midtown Tunnel might not be an option, but avoiding other major roads might be possible. Check your map or navigation system for alternate time-saving routes. 
  • Look at a traffic website before leaving. 13NewsNow displays a map of traffic conditions in Norfolk and shows delays, accidents, construction zones, and more.  
  • Be attentive to road conditions. The last thing you need is a ticket for distracted driving or, worse, a car accident. Stay alert and practice safe driving behaviors while making your way through Norfolk. 

Prepare for Norfolk traffic by updating your car insurance

If you’re headed to Norfolk for its historical attractions or making your everyday commute through the Midtown Tunnel, you’ll want to be sure your vehicle is covered under the right car insurance plan.  
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Driving in Norfolk can be congested and confusing if you’ve never made your way through the Midtown tunnel or the crowded streets of downtown. However, practicing safe driving behaviors, staying alert, and using a GPS navigation system can all make for a smoother drive.
Norfolk is likely to have the least amount of traffic congestion before6 am, after 6 pm, or between 9 am and 3 pm.

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