How Bad Is Pensacola Traffic?

Pensacola has the 43rd worst traffic of any US city, with an average of 20 hours lost to congestion in 2021 alone.
Written by Mariza Morin
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Motorists in Pensacola lose nearly 20 hours of their lives in traffic congestion every year, according to a 2021 study. That makes it the city with the 43rd worst traffic congestion in the entire US.
Located in Florida’s Panhandle, Pensacola is known for its stunning beaches, abundant wildlife, and the famous Blue Angels air show. It’s also home to 54,312 residents—but even though it’s no metropolis, it’s still one of the most congested cities in the nation.  
Just how bad does Pensacola traffic get? This guide will give you an overview of traffic congestion in this Florida city including how bad the local traffic has become, why it’s so bad, and how to drive like a pro in the Pensacola Bay Area.
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How bad is Pensacola traffic?

According to the
2021 Global Traffic Scorecard
, Pensacola traffic is ranked 43rd among the most congested cities in the United States. This means the average Pensacola driver loses 20 hours to congestion every year, costing each driver about $306.31. 
In particular, traffic congestion in Pensacola Beach has become worse over the years due to the area’s growth. Thankfully, Escambia County and the Santa Rosa Island Authority have put together a
Congestion Management Plan
to tackle the issue head-on. 

Why is Pensacola traffic so bad?

Various factors can affect traffic congestion. This includes the city’s population size, infrastructure, and driving habits among residents. Here are a few reasons why Pensacola has some of the worst congestion issues in the country. 

High tourism in a dense population 

The city of Pensacola has a population of 54,312 residents. Then, why on earth is it ranked #43 for worst traffic in the United States? It’s a prime vacation spot! Not to mention it’s pretty densely populated. Therefore, high levels of tourism crammed in a small suburban area greatly contribute to the traffic congestion in Pensacola.

Major chokepoints

The busiest highways that run through Pensacola are I-10, I-110, and US 98. Interstate 10 is a notable traffic hotspot due to the dense population and high traffic in the area. Garden Street is also a chokepoint as the busy business route of US 98 in downtown Pensacola. 

How to navigate Pensacola traffic like a pro

Regardless of high tourism rates in a dense area, it’s possible to navigate your way through Pensacola and avoid getting caught up in the congestion. Follow these few driving tips if you want to drive through the Pensacola Bay Area with ease: 
  • Avoid rush hour when you can. Pensacola’s rush hour starts to get heavy between 6 am and 8:30 am.
  • Take the back streets. I-10 may seem like the speediest way to navigate Pensacola, but as previously mentioned, traffic congestion is a major issue. Look into taking smaller roads instead of this bumping highway. 
  • Use a traffic app to stay alert. Download the
    Florida 511
    mobile app, which provides real-time, minute-by-minute traffic conditions. It’s run by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
  • Don’t get distracted. If you get caught up in a traffic jam, the last thing you need to do is get
    distracted while driving
    . Put the phone and food away, and don’t play your music so loud that you lose all focus. 

Prepare for Pensacola traffic by updating your car insurance

Whether you plan to travel through Pensacola or you’re a daily commuter, it’s always a great idea to update your
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Driving in Pensacola can be frustrating due to high amounts of traffic congestion, especially if you’re not used to such conditions. Make sure to check Florida 511 for up-to-date traffic reports, use your GPS navigation, and avoid any distractions while driving in the Florida Panhandle city.
If you’re trying to avoid rush hour traffic, it’s best to drive through the city before 6 am or after 8:30 am. Unfortunately, there is no data on evening rush hour.
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