How Bad is Winston-Salem Traffic?

Winston-Salem has lower than average traffic congestion when compared to major US cities, with drivers losing about six hours to traffic in 2021.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
While traffic in Winston-Salem is low compared to other US cities, drivers in North Carolina’s fifth most populous city should still be prepared to face congestion during their rush hour commute. Drivers in Winston-Salem lose around six hours a year to traffic jams.
 Traffic isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Instead, you might think of beautiful parks, prestigious universities, and interesting museums. But residents of the Twin City know that if you’re a commuter, you’ll still need to deal with the occasional traffic jam.
So how bad is rush hour in Winston-Salem? Here with traffic statistics and tips on how to avoid congestion in the small North Carolina city is
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How bad is Winston-Salem traffic?

Winston-Salem is the 193rd most congested city in the United States, according to a 2021 international study. This means that its overall traffic is below average when compared to major US cities, with drivers losing around six hours a year to traffic jams. The extra time spent sitting in traffic costs Winston-Salem drivers about $99.21.

Why is Winston-Salem traffic bad?

When it comes to traffic in Winston-Salem, the city’s population, its infrastructure, and the driving habits of its residents all affect congestion rates.


Winston-Salem is home to almost 250,000 residents and is North Carolina’s fifth most populous city. With thousands of additional drivers on the roads during rush hour—since most Twin City commuters get to and from their jobs by car—motorists sometimes run into congested roads and traffic delays.


Major delays are rare in Winston-Salem, but there are a few roads in or around the downtown area that do face traffic jams and slowdowns. If you need to travel on East 5th Street, North Church Street, North Liberty Street, 3rd Street, or Trade Street Northwest be prepared for a slower drive.
Commuters driving to and from Winston-Salem via Route 421 or Route 52 may also encounter rush hour bottlenecking and accident delays.

Driving habits

The average commute in Winston-Salem takes about 25 minutes. With shorter commutes, drivers in the Twin City spend most of their time driving on city streets—and that can sometimes cause extra delays, especially downtown and near business districts. Furthermore, with many workers returning to the office as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted, there are even more drivers hitting the road during rush hour—and even more accidents, congestion, and traffic jams.
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How to navigate Winston-Salem traffic

Running into unexpected traffic may
make your blood boil
—especially if it makes you late for work. But staying calm and planning a route that avoids high-traffic areas can help lower your risk of getting into an accident. Since even small crashes like fender benders can
increase your insurance costs
, here are a few tips to help you avoid accidents in Winston-Salem:
  • Try not to drive during the peak of rush hour. The worst time of day to drive in Winston-Salem is between the hours of 3pm and 4pm, when the city sees 14% to 19% of its total traffic volume. If you have the option to avoid rush hour completely, stay away from the roads between 7am and 9am in the morning, and 3pm and 6pm in the afternoon.
  • Stay away from high-traffic areas. If you travel through the downtown area or a busy business district, check and see if you can use a different route to get to your destination. Driving on side streets instead of main roads with busy intersections can reduce your risk of getting into an accident.
  • Use your car’s navigation system or your preferred traffic app to avoid congestion. You can use
    to see construction delays and current traffic jams in Winston-Salem and the surrounding areas.
  • Concentrate on safe driving. Even if you get stuck in a bottleneck, keep your focus on the road and don't get distracted by loud music or your cell phone. Avoid the temptation to weave between lanes and leave plenty of space between yourself and the car in front of you. A distracted driving ticket can cost you a lot in the long run.

Prepare for Winston-Salem traffic by updating your car insurance

If you commute through downtown Winston-Salem, or frequently get stuck in traffic on Route 52, it might be time to update your car insurance. Whether you need a whole new policy, or just want to add coverage,
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Traffic in Winston-Salem is low compared to major US cities, but if you’re driving in the downtown area or on certain interstates you may run into some slowdowns or traffic jams.
Traffic in Winston-Salem is lightest before 7am, after 6pm, and on weekends.
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