How Bad Is Tampa Traffic?

Tampa has the 12th worst traffic of any U.S. city, with an average of 76 hours lost to congestion in 2021 alone.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
According to a recent survey, Tampa, Florida drivers lost an average of 76 hours to rush hour traffic in 2021 alone—making Tampa the 12th ranked city in the U.S. in terms of bad traffic.  
, home to the African-themed Busch Gardens amusement park, the Tampa Museum of Art, and the Florida Aquarium, is a beautiful city situated on Florida's Gulf Coast. Tampa is known for its beautiful weather, world-renowned vacation spots, rich Cuban-American history, and, yes—its bad traffic.
Exactly how bad is Tampa’s traffic situation? Here to answer that question is the #1-rated
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. We’ve compiled a brief history of Tampa’s traffic statistics to help you navigate the city’s traffic like a pro whether you're a local or a visitor.
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How bad is Tampa traffic?

According to the
TomTom Traffic Index
2021 ranking, Tampa is the nation’s 12th worst city for traffic congestion. TomTom reported that the average Tampa driver spent approximately 76 hours driving in rush hour traffic jams in 2021 alone, costing drivers just over $1,175 in fuel costs.  
Those numbers are slightly lower than the 2019 traffic statistics, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though they have increased by 3% from 2020’s statistics. This increase, however slight, signals a change as public health restrictions ease and drivers return to their normal commuting practices.
Hours spent in rush hour traffic
79 hours
73 hours
76 hours
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Why is Tampa traffic so bad?

Traffic congestion is caused by a number of ever-changing factors, including, but not limited to, overall population size, the current state of the city’s infrastructure, and the geography of the city. 
Here is a breakdown of exactly why Tampa’s traffic ranks so highly amongst cities with notoriously horrible traffic. 

Population size 

Tampa is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. With a population of more than 407,000 in 2022, Tampa is home to several hundreds of thousands of drivers in addition to the thousands of daily tourists and out-of-city commuters, all of whom lead to severely clogged roadways, especially during rush hours.


As Tampa attempts to grow to accommodate its rapidly increasing local population, increased construction has led to more frequent roadblocks and traffic jams on the city’s streets. This is especially true in places where Tampa has failed to adapt its roadways while building up its housing and business sectors. 


In addition to its numerous business districts disrupting everyday traffic smoothness, Tampa’s unique geography frequently leads to bottlenecks. For example, the bay between Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida only features a handful of crosspoints, leading to traffic jams, especially during rush hours in and out of the two neighboring cities. 
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How to navigate Tampa traffic like a pro

Bad traffic conditions, in addition to being just
generally annoying
and fuel-consuming, can also lead to dangerous and sometimes even fatal accidents. 
In the first half of 2021 alone, there were as many as 78 fatalities on Tampa roadways. Even in instances where collisions aren’t fatal, however, the resulting damages can be a financial headache, even leading to potential
increases in your insurance premium
There are ways, however, to practice safe driving while also keeping your insurance costs as low as possible while navigating the streets of Tampa. 
  • Avoid rush hours when you can. Tampa’s most frequent rush hours run from approximately 6 am to 9 am and from 3 pm to 7 pm. Avoiding the roads during these time ranges whenever possible is a great way to steer clear of potential accidents and increased traffic jams. Staying off the streets from 4 pm to 6 pm altogether is a good idea, as this is when Tampa’s traffic is at its absolute worst.
  • Take backroads when you can. Avoiding busy roads, like highways and interstates, is a great way to avoid bad traffic in any city. While these routes might seem longer than your typical freeway commute, remember that you'll be avoiding potential hours' worth of traffic backups by opting for the road less traveled. 
  • Tune into a traffic radio station to stay ahead of the unexpected. There are several radio stations offering real-time traffic updates in the Tampa region. If you want to avoid accidents, construction, and other traffic jams in Tampa, consider tuning your radio to 94.5 FM, 99.1 FM, or 970 AM.  
  • Stay focused. Even when you’re in standstill traffic, it’s important to stay focused and
    avoid distractions
    , including your phone. It’s also important to leave sufficient distance between yourself and other cars. 

Prepare for Tampa traffic by updating your car insurance

If you’re driving in an area where traffic jams are frequent, you may want to consider
upgrading your insurance coverage
to ensure that you’re protected against the kinds of accidents that are more common in high-traffic locales. 
, finding the car insurance you need is easy, no matter where you live. Get started today by downloading our #1-rated insurance comparison app and answering a few questions to get access to competitive insurance quotes from more than 50 of the top insurance providers in your area in less than 45 seconds. No lengthy phone calls, no time-consuming paperwork! 
When you sign on with Jerry, you’ll also benefit from a user-average savings of $887 a year on your car insurance policy.  
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Tampa can be a challenge for drivers who aren’t used to busy highways and city streets. That being said, practicing cautious, defensive driving and using a reliable GPS system can help you get to wherever you’re going in Tampa without any trouble.
If you want to avoid rush hour, your best bet is to hit Tampa’s roads either before 6 am, between 10 am and 3 pm, or after 7 pm.
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