How Bad Is Pittsburgh Traffic?

Pittsburgh ranks 35th worst traffic in the United States, with an annual average of 18 hours lost to congestion.
Written by Sophie Boka
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Pittsburgh ranks 35th when it comes to the worst traffic in the United States. It's estimated that Pittsburgh drivers lose, on average, 18 hours to traffic congestion every year. As we exit the pandemic, it's predicted to get even worse.
The City of Bridges connects drivers to Pittsburgh’s gleaming attractions, dappled across the urban cityscape. But with so much to do and an ever-growing list of places to go comes a lot of traffic. Unsurprisingly, Pittsburgh has its fair share, ranking 35th of the worst traffic cities in the nation and second in the state.
These rankings clearly don’t sound like news to phone home about. But just how bad is the traffic in Pittsburgh? To break it down, top-rated
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broker app
has created this explainer. Read on for an overview of traffic statistics, what Pittsburghers can do to save time on the road, and how Jerry can help you keep your
Pittsburgh insurance costs

How bad is Pittsburgh traffic?

Sure, Pittsburgh may not have made the top 10 cut for worst traffic cities in the States—that’s saved for cities like New York and LA. But when there are about 20,000 cities in the USA, 35th is pretty high up there. 
Annually, each Pittsburgh driver loses 18 hours to traffic congestion alone. That number skyrockets to 57 hours if you frequent rush hour. To make matters worse, this inconvenience costs about $275 per driver per year
Unfortunately, the forecast doesn’t look any brighter. These numbers, high as they seem, are down from pre-pandemic levels. As restrictions loosen and people get back to their normal routines, they’re predicted to jump even higher.
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Why is Pittsburgh traffic so bad?

So those numbers are admittedly terrible. But why? What is it about Pittsburgh that congests the roads so tightly? Here are a few factors.

Road layouts 

Good execution requires a good plan. To put it lightly, Pittsburgh could have come up with a better one. Route 837 has its tangled intersections, which clog up during rush hour. And Route 28 is infamous for its
high bottlenecked areas
Whenever roads merge, you’re going to have some backup. But this backup intensifies when the area is highly trafficked.
Some good and bad news. The good news is that Penn DOT does have
a plan
to reconstruct Route 28. The bad news is that reconstructions require construction, so expect the roads to become even more congested until this work is complete.

Driving etiquette

Pittsburgh is an incredibly friendly city, but this amicability doesn’t always translate to the roads. Often, drivers don’t take turns when merging, which can build up traffic. Crosstown Boulevard is particularly known for this bad etiquette, with drivers frequently cutting ahead of others.  

Red lights

We rely on traffic lights to keep the flow of cars running smoothly. When the lights don’t work as they should, chaos ensues. 
The lights in Pittsburgh are often poorly timed. This is especially noteworthy in some of the busier areas. Route 19, too, could use some light re-timing. The light speeds where minor side streets merge with the main road become especially rough during rush hour.
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How to navigate Pittsburgh traffic like a pro

Nothing is more existentially painstaking than getting stuck in traffic. But existential pain is one thing. Physical pain is another. 
Not only is traffic mindnumbing, but it also increases accident risk. Tight congestion increases your chance of fender benders or worse—but the fun doesn’t end there. If you’re stuck in traffic and get into an accident, you can also expect your insurance rate to go up. 
While it’s fun to complain, the traffic in Pittsburgh is something you’ll likely have to endure. Here are a few of our suggestions to get you through:
  • Avoid rush hour if possible. On weekdays, Pittsburgh rush hour usually falls between 7am to 9am and 2pm to 6pm. But let’s be realistic—you can’t always avoid being off the road during these times. But if you can be a little flexible, at least try avoiding the roads at their worst: 7am to 8am and 5pm to 6pm
  • Take the scenic route. Pittsburgh drivers know: the main routes are the main sites of traffic backup. So why not take the scenic route? Sure, it might be less direct. But it’s also less trafficked. In the end, you may end up saving time. 
  • Get the local traffic report. The best way to inform your route is to keep up with the local traffic report. Luckily, Pittsburgh has plenty of options to choose from, including WAMO and KDKA, among others.
  • Keep your eye on the road. You can do all of the above, but you’re still bound to hit traffic from time to time. The best way to stay safe is to stay vigilant. Save the screens and snacks for home because
    a moment of distraction
    could take you from boredom to accident.  

Prepare for Pittsburgh traffic by updating your car insurance

While traffic may be out of your control, protecting yourself isn’t. And the best way to protect yourself on the road is to update your car insurance policy.
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Yes, traffic can get pretty bad in Pittsburgh—especially during rush hours. Drivers lose an average of 18 hours per year to congestion alone.
The city is driveable in theory—but practically speaking, Pittsburgh ranks among the worst cities for driving.
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