How Bad Is Salt Lake City Traffic?

Salt Lake City has the 45th worst traffic of any US city, with an average of 57 hours lost to congestion in 2021 alone.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
According to a recent study, Salt Lake City drivers lost approximately 57 hours to rush hour traffic in 2021 alone. That number makes Utah’s capital city the 45th worst city in the country for traffic. 
Salt Lake City, Utah is a growing city settled in the valley of the picturesque Rocky Mountains.  It’s home to a metropolitan population of more than 1.24 million. Salt Lake City is primarily known for being the religious center of Mormonism, but it’s in danger of becoming known for its bad traffic, as well. 
How bad could traffic really be in Salt Lake City? We're here with the answer and a comprehensive guide to traffic in Utah’s capital city. In this guide, we’ll cover the ins and outs of Salt Lake City traffic, like how to avoid rush hour traffic and navigate the city like a local, even if you’re just passing through. 

How bad is Salt Lake City traffic?

In an ongoing study conducted by
TomTom Traffic Index
, Salt Lake City traffic was ranked as the 45th worst in the United States. TomTom’s traffic experts estimated that the average Salt Lake City driver spent approximately 57 extra hours in rush hour traffic in 2021 alone, costing drivers an average of $882 in fuel costs.   
Salt Lake City, like most US cities, is still building itself back up after the COVID-19 pandemic. But while traffic isn’t currently as bad as it was in 2019, it has increased since 2020. It will likely continue to return to pre-pandemic levels as public health restrictions are rolled back and commuters return to their normal schedules.
Hours lost to congestion
85 hours
52 hours
57 hours
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Why is Salt Lake City traffic so bad?

Traffic is a frustrating fact of life for almost every driver worldwide. That said, certain conditions can make traffic woes worse, such as high population, infrastructure instability, and poor driving practices. Let’s take a look at why Salt Lake City has particularly poor traffic conditions. 

Population size 

While it’s not
Los Angeles
New York City
, the Salt Lake City metropolitan area is home to more than 1.24 million residents. There’s also traffic to and from nearby cities like
, and
West Jordan
. With more than 75% of these residents driving to work every day, traffic in and out of Salt Lake City is bound to be congested, especially during rush hours.

Major chokepoints

Traffic in Salt Lake City is particularly poor as the city is at the apex of two major highways: I-80 and I-15. Additional hotspots for bad traffic in Salt Lake City include South Temple Street, the intersection of North Temple and State Street, the intersection of Route 800 South and Route 500 East, and Route 700 East

Driving habits

While the metropolitan population of Salt Lake City exceeds 1.2 million, the area is not particularly densely populated. Covering 111 square miles of land, Salt Lake City only has an average of 1,185 people per square mile. This means that most residents will be commuting a significant distance, particularly if they are working in the city’s heart. More commuters leads to more congestion, more accidents, and potential hours-long delays. 
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How to navigate Salt Lake City traffic like a pro

Traffic jams are a headache at the best of times, but they can also prove dangerous, leading to increased rates of collisions. 
Utah Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol
reported that 2021 saw the highest rates of fatal crashes since 2002, with 320 people dying as the result of car accidents last year in the Salt Lake City area. That said, even when accidents don’t prove fatal, they can still result in expensive
car repair
costs, medical bills, and increases in your insurance premium. 
You can avoid contributing to these grim statistics by practicing safe and defensive driving tactics at all times while behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at a few more tips and tricks that can help you keep yourself safe and your insurance rates low: 
  • Avoid rush hour traffic if possible. Salt Lake City experiences heavy traffic congestion during rush hour periods from 6 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 7 pm. Traffic can be particularly bad from 4 pm–6 pm, so it’s best to avoid the streets during this time. By skipping the traffic congestion, you may also miss out on a greater risk of collision.
  • Take the scenic route. The easiest way to avoid busy highway traffic is to stay off the highway altogether. Whenever you can, try taking less-traveled local roads to get to your destination safer and faster. A good GPS navigation system can be a big help in finding alternative routes to your destination.
  • Use a traffic radio station. Talk Radio 105.9 KNRS provides Salt Lake City drivers with real-time updates on traffic jams, collisions, and any other roadway disruptions that might affect their commute. 
  • Stay focused. Even when you’re in tip-to-tail stand-still traffic, it’s important to stay focused at all times while behind the wheel. This means avoiding distractions like mobile phones, food, and loud music. 

Prepare for Salt Lake City traffic by updating your car insurance

Whether you’re a Salt Lake City local or just passing through, it’s a good idea to update your car insurance policy to protect your vehicle before hitting these city streets and the dangers that come along with them. 
Updating and switching your car insurance policy is easier than ever with Jerry. As the #1 rated car insurance super app and a licensed insurance broker, Jerry provides users with multiple competitive quotes from some of the top insurance providers nationwide, all in less than 45 seconds of signing up! Download the Jerry app today, and we can even help you cancel your old policy. 
Want to know the best part? Jerry users save an average of $887 a year on their car insurance policy, effectively canceling out the extra costs incurred by sitting in Salt Lake City traffic jams. 
is a great product with great customer service! The quote comparison found me lots of options...” —Gregory K.
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Salt Lake City is not a notoriously difficult city to navigate. But if you're a new driver, or simply not used to driving in a busy city, it can prove challenging. Investing in a reliable GPS navigation system can help you get around if you’re nervous or from out of town.
If you want to avoid rush hour, it’s best to drive through the city before 6am, after 7pm, or between 10am and 3pm.
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