Unlike some studies that focus solely on traffic, WalletHub looked at the 100 U.S. cities (excluding surrounding metro areas) with the highest population, and measured them in four different categories: cost of ownership and maintenance, traffic and infrastructure, safety, and access to vehicles and maintenance.
These four categories were broken down into a total of 29 sub-metrics—number of car thefts and the cost of gas, for example—each of which had a weighted value. For each metric a city was graded on a 100-point scale (100 being the best), and a city’s overall score was determined by calculating the “city’s weighted average across all metrics.” (For example, Detroit got a total score of 35.13.)
From there the 100 cities were ranked overall, and then across the four categories. Here are WalletHub’s 10 worst cities for driving—and the main category that dragged them down:
1. Detroit, Mich.
Detroit ranked second to last in the “safety” category, which was measured by criteria including traffic fatality rate, rate of car theft, and the likelihood of accidents. It also ranked poorly for traffic and infrastructure.
2. San Francisco, Calif.
San Francisco was dead last in the “cost of ownership and maintenance” category, and the city was also ranked 92 out of 100 in traffic and infrastructure.
3. Oakland, Calif.
And just across the bay from San Francisco, Oakland was ranked second to last in “cost of ownership and maintenance.” It also tied with Detroit and Albuquerque, N.M. for the highest rate of car theft.
4. Philadelphia, Pa.
Philadelphia’s position is due in part to its poor safety ranking, high cost of ownership, and amount of traffic.
5. Seattle, Wash.
Traffic and the cost of owning and maintaining a car contribute to Seattle’s ranking as the fifth worst city for driving.
6. Boston, Mass.
In addition to traffic, and cost of owning a vehicle, Boston was the city in the bottom 10 with the worst “access to vehicles and maintenance” rating.
7. New York, N.Y.
New Yorkers can no longer complain about Los Angeles traffic; the city was ranked last in “traffic and infrastructure.”
8. Newark, N.J.
Newark’s safety ranking and traffic congestion landed it on this list.
9. Los Angeles, Calif.
Though Los Angeles did not rank as the worst traffic, its infamous road congestion along with the high cost of ownership earned Los Angeles its number nine spot.
10. Chicago, Ill.
Chicago follows New York as the second worst city for traffic.
The top 10 cities for driving were all located in North Carolina, Texas and Florida. Raleigh, North Carolina was number one, followed by Corpus Christi, Texas, and Orlando, Florida.