How Bad Is Olympia Traffic?

Commuters in Olympia lost 11 hours to congestion in 2020 alone.
Written by Olivia Rose
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Drivers in Olympia lost 11 hours on average to congestion in 2020—costing the city a total of $52 million. 
Olympia, Washington’s
claim to fame comes from more than just being the state’s capital—it’s also home to some rather unpredictable traffic. 
, the only
car insurance
super-app, has you covered when it comes to driving in Olympia. We’re covering how bad the traffic is, which areas and times to avoid, and how to find the best insurance for driving in Olympia. 

How bad is Olympia traffic?

Drivers in Olympia lost a total of 2,304,000 hours to congestion in 2020—that’s 11 hours annually per person, on average. 
Unlike many other cities, Olympia traffic happens sporadically throughout the day rather than predictably at rush hour. That said, you can avoid driving during rush hour (7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm) if you want to steer clear of the commuters—but you still have a good chance of seeing random traffic at, say, 1:30 pm. 

Why is Olympia traffic so bad?

Olympia traffic isn’t as bad as some major cities in the US, but let’s take a look at some factors that add to congestion there. 

Population size 

While Olympia's population is on the smaller end—only around 50,000 residents—the compressed layout of the city makes it more crowded and susceptible to traffic. 

Major chokepoints

Here are some of the chokepoints to avoid if you’re trying to steer clear of traffic in Olympia. Many of these are major intersections that see lots of drivers going in and out of Olympia to neighboring cities:
  • Plum St./Henderson Blvd.
  • 5th Ave.
  • Union Ave.
  • Legion Way
  • I-5

Driving habits

While Olympia has light rush hour traffic, some of its traffic comes at more unpredictable times—such as Christmastime shopping in December and high schoolers headed out for summer break. 
MORE:The best type of car insurance to get if you commute long distances
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How to navigate Olympia traffic like a pro

There’s nothing more stressful than a traffic-induced fender bender—and collisions of any sort can lead to an
increase in your car insurance rate
Here are some ways to maintain your composure by avoiding common obstacles in traffic:
  • Avoid rush hour. As a general rule of thumb, avoid driving around 9 am and 5 pm to avoid rush-hour congestion.  
  • Use a traffic app for road updates. Apps like Google Maps and Waze offer real-time traffic updates to help you find the most efficient route whenever you’re on the road. 
  • Stay calm. In any scenario, staying calm while behind the wheel is your best bet for avoiding unwanted collisions. Practice defensive driving habits like early braking and slow acceleration 
MORE:The 3 best apps for avoiding traffic jams

Prepare for Olympia traffic by updating your car insurance

If you’re planning to drive in Olympia traffic, take your planning to the next level by updating your car insurance
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Nope! It’s not too bad—just don’t be surprised by some unexpected midday traffic. Practice safe driving habits and stay calm, and you’ll be good to go.
Avoid rush hour—9 am and 5 pm—to be safe, but generally, any time of day is okay to drive in Olympia.
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