Smooth Rides: 5 Driver-Friendly Cities
Where you live likely determines whether your daily commute involves cruising down the open road or barely moving through bumper-to-bumper traffic. As it turns out, some cities make driving more convenient than others. Based on features like gas prices and traffic congestion levels, many people think these five cities can be driver friendly:
St. Louis, MissouriThe Gateway City has a lot going for it if you’re a driver. Among major U.S. cities, it’s in the top 10 for best traffic, with congestion only adding an average 17 minutes to drivers’ daily travel times, according to the 2016 TomTom Traffic Index. This ranks cities’ traffic by congestion level, which it defines as the percent increase in overall travel times when compared to an uncongested situation. St. Louis is also one of the cities with the most car washes and auto repair shops per capita, WalletHub reports. And if you want to share your car enthusiasm with others, you’re in luck: The city has a classic car club, as well as some other clubs devoted to particular car makes.
Cleveland, OhioAs the home of several pioneering car makers and auto parts producers, Cleveland has played a major role in the rise of the automotive industry since the 1890s, says Case Western Reserve University. It’s also quite accommodating to drivers: Maintenance and repair costs in the northern Ohio town are some of the lowest in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report, and it ranks seventh among large U.S. cities when it comes to good traffic flow, per TomTom.
Charlotte, North CarolinaHead to Charlotte for what WalletHub reports are the lowest maintenance and car ownership costs among the country’s most populated cities. Road traffic typically creates an extra 23 minutes of driving time each day, according to TomTom, which is about average across large U.S. cities. But finding street parking can be relatively easy, U.S. News and World Report says, due to Charlotte’s low population density. While you’re in town, you may want to check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Birmingham, AlabamaJoin the club! Birmingham has more car clubs per capita than any other major U.S. city, real estate website Movoto reports. Even if you’re not an auto enthusiast, Alabama’s largest city offers some of the lowest gas prices in the country, U.S. News and World Report says, and relatively manageable traffic (congestion only adds an average of 19 minutes per day to drivers’ travel times, TomTom reports, putting the city in the top 20 for best traffic).
Tucson, ArizonaThis Southwest city came in second in WalletHub’s list of best cities for driving, scoring well in terms of ownership and maintenance costs and accessibility, traffic conditions and infrastructure quality. Traffic adds 17 minutes of travel time on average per day, according to TomTom — up only 1 percent from 2015. And if you’d like to get out of the city, Lonely Planet recommends some scenic drives from Tucson, including Monument Valley, with its unusual rock formations.
So if you’re a regular driver planning to move to a new town, you may want to consider the places that will be more accommodating to your set of wheels.