Where And When Commuting Takes The Longest

Topic Tag | Engineering

Drivemode Data Report: Where And When Commuting Takes The Longest

Committing to the drudgery of commuting day in and day out can be one of the most challenging parts of work. Whether it’s morning or evening rush, the roads are filled with stressed folks running late, sleepy people, and the grumps who are not looking forward to wherever they are heading. Drivemode took a closer look at rush hour driving trends to uncover when and where the burdens of commuting are heaviest.

Drivemode reviewed the data of over 455K anonymized Android users from January 2017 through May 2018, driving over 184.2 million miles and producing over 278.3 million points of anonymous GPS location data. With this information, Drivemode set a 25-mile radius around a central point of a metro area with 32.5 million location data points to find the averaged aggregated duration of driving sessions by hour and day of week within each metro area, using 6am to 10am as morning rush hours and 3pm to 7pm as evening rush hours. The purpose of this study was to analyze commuting trends at different hours within rush periods to see if there are notable differences between hours or between metro areas.

“The hours during which drivers’ commutes are longest may be due, in part, to the fact that people with different kinds of jobs may endure different commuting realities,” said Yo Koga, CEO and founder of Drivemode. “In many big cities, if you hit the road in the 6am hour, you’re spending the longest time behind the wheel of all morning commuters. Such drivers may be heading to shift jobs that start at 7am. Those workers may live farther from their jobs than, say, a professional in a corporate office, whose workday starts at 9am and who may have housing options that allow him or her to live in relatively close proximity to the workplace.”

“In some cities, longer commute times undoubtedly relate to traffic patterns there,” said Koga. “Knowing these trends can help commuters choose when to hit the road, particularly in summer months when some offices have more flexibility with work hours. Of course, navigation apps can give you the best idea of traffic conditions at the moment, but knowing more about overall trends can help commuters make the most of their time on the road.”

Summary Findings

  • 6pm is the best time to leave work. In 19 out of 20 cities, leaving work after 6pm means spending the least amount of time behind the wheel. In St. Louis, commuting during 3-4pm shows the least drivetime, but is only 10 seconds less than 6-7pm.
  • The longest evening commute happens 4-5pm in a majority of cities. 5-6pm had the longest commute for 6 metros whereas 4-5pm was the longest in 12 metros.
  • Morning commutes are more evenly dispersed. 6-7am had the longest morning commute for 10 metros and 7-8am had the longest morning commute for 6 metros. 8-9am had the shortest morning commute for 9 metros and 9-10am had the shortest morning commute for 8 metros.
  • Evening  commute times vary more than morning commutes. For example:
    • Atlanta drivers who leave at 6pm spend 15% less time in their cars than those who leave at 4pm. Morning commutes in that city vary by less than 5%, however.  
    • Tampa drivers leaving at 6pm experience a 17% quicker commute than 4pm commuters. Morning commutes there differ by less than 7%.
  • In some cities, both rushes see big differences depending on departure times. For example:
    • San Diego commute durations vary by 13-18% in both rushes.
    • Washington DC sees 12-13% variation in commute times for departure hours during both rushes.
  • In some cities, commute durations are relatively consistent throughout each rush, no matter the departure time.  For example:
    • Houston commute times vary only 4-7% across all hours in both the morning and afternoon rushes.
    • New York City commute drive times vary by only 7-8% during either rush.
    • Dallas sees only a 6.5-9% variation in commute times.
  • Overall, it takes longer to drive one mile in the evening rush than it does in the morning rush.
    • Miami is the slowest in both morning and evening rushes, taking drivers an average of 2.91 minutes to drive a mile in the morning and 3.09 minutes to drive a mile in the evening.
    • San Diego is the fastest in the morning, taking 1.71 minutes to drive one mile.
    • St. Louis and Minneapolis are fastest in the evening, both taking 2 minutes to drive one mile.

“Drivemode users are likely more active drivers than average American motorists, so their commute times are longer than what we know to be typical,” said Koga. “The relative length of their rush-hour drive times, however, reveals trends that we believe extend to American roadways. The metros and the hours that see the longest commutes in our study reflect a reality for commuters generally.”

The table below shows the morning and evening rush hours for 20 major metro areas, sorted by longest average commuting time in minutes for Drivemode users. Each rush period was divided into morning and evening sessions of 6am-10am and 3pm-7pm to see hour-by-hour behavioral trends. The time for the longest and shortest commute lengths are listed below, along with the difference in time between them.

Metro Longest average commute length (mins) Time of longest commute (AM and PM) Shortest average commute length (mins) Time of shortest commute (AM and PM) Difference in commute time between longest and shortest
New York PM 55.77 5-6pm 51.85 6-7pm 7.03%
New York AM 55.72 6-7am 51.23 9-10am 8.06%
Los Angeles PM 54.69 4-5pm 47.42 6-7pm 13.29%
Atlanta PM 52.91 4-5pm 44.74 6-7pm 15.44%
Los Angeles AM 52.74 7-8am 49.15 8-9am 6.81%
Washington D.C. AM 52.15 7-8am 45.27 8-9am 13.19%
Washington D.C. PM 51.89 4-5pm 45.61 6-7pm 12.10%
San Francisco PM 51.08 4-5pm 44.98 6-7pm 11.94%
Philadelphia AM 50.51 6-7am 47.07 9-10am 6.81%
Philadelphia PM 50.42 3-4pm 45.02 6-7pm 10.71%
Miami PM 50.23 5-6pm 48.29 6-7pm 3.86%
Chicago PM 50.20 4-5pm 44.35 6-7pm 11.65%
Miami AM 50.07 7-8am 44.85 9-10am 10.43%
Atlanta AM 49.93 7-8am 47.5 9-10am 4.87%
Boston PM 50.30 4-5pm 44.74 6-7pm 10.16%
Boston AM 49.68 6-7am 42.65 8-9am 14.15%
Chicago AM 49.11 9-10am 46.43 8-9am 5.46%
Riverside- San Bernadino PM 48.57 5-6pm 42.97 6-7pm 11.53%
Tampa PM 48.32 4-5pm 39.85 6-7pm 17.53%
San Francisco AM 47.96 9-10am 44.08 8-9am 8.09%
Seattle PM 47.79 5-6pm 42.51 6-7pm 11.05%
Seattle AM 47.68 7-8am 43.5 6-7am 8.77%
Houston PM 47.59 4-5pm 44.47 6-7pm 6.56%
Detroit PM 46.25 3-4pm 37.72 6-7pm 18.44%
Phoenix PM 45.92 5-6pm 41.27 6-7pm 10.13%
San Diego AM 45.77 6-7am 37.54 9-10am 17.98%
Tampa AM 45.65 6-7am 42.55 9-10am 6.79%
Phoenix AM 44.71 6-7am 40.25 8-9am 9.98%
Dallas PM 44.57 4-5pm 41.67 6-7pm 6.51%
Denver PM 44.54 4-5pm 39.56 6-7pm 11.18%
Dallas AM 44.48 7-8am 40.42 8-9am 9.13%
San Diego PM 43.82 5-6pm 38 6-7pm 13.28%
Riverside- San Bernadino AM 43.7 6-7am 41 8-9am 6.18%
Houston AM 43.65 6-7am 41.84 9-10am 4.15%
Detroit AM 43.35 9-10am 38.36 7-8am 11.51%
Minneapolis AM 43.33 6-7am 38.15 8-9am 11.95%
St Louis AM 43.27 6-7am 36.13 7-8am 16.50%
Denver AM 42.42 8-9am 38.99 9-10am 8.09%
Minneapolis PM 41.91 4-5pm 37.09 6-7pm 11.50%
St Louis PM 40.52 4-5pm 37.17 3-4pm 8.27%

For additional insight into commuting times, Drivemode also compared metro areas using the number of minutes it takes an average driver to drive one mile during morning and evening rush hours. In 8am-9am rush traffic, driving a mile in Miami, New York City and Boston takes the longest out of any city with 2.91 mins, 2.77 mins, and 2.51 mins, respectively. During that same period, San Diego drivers enjoy the luxury of 41% less time to drive a mile than drivers in Miami, clocking in at 1.71 minutes per mile. St. Louis and Minneapolis follow San Diego with the fastest mile drive times at 1.75 and 1.81 minutes respectively.

One Morning Mile: How many minutes it takes to drive one mile, 8am-9am local time

Rank from Fastest  to Slowest Metro Minutes to drive one mile during 8am-9am rush
1 San Diego 1.71
2 St Louis 1.75
3 Minneapolis 1.81
4 Riverside 1.81
5 Phoenix 1.82
6 Dallas 1.99
7 Denver 2.06
8 Detroit 2.08
9 Tampa 2.12
10 Houston 2.14
11 Atlanta 2.29
12 Chicago 2.30
13 Philadelphia 2.34
14 Seattle 2.36
15 Washington, D.C. 2.40
16 Los Angeles 2.50
17 San Francisco 2.50
18 Boston 2.51
19 New York City 2.77
20 Miami 2.91

In 5pm-6pm rush traffic, driving a mile in Miami, New York City and Los Angeles takes the longest out of any city with 3.09 mins, 3.08 mins, and 3.06 mins, respectively. During that same period, drivers in St. Louis and Minneapolis enjoy 54% less time to drive a mile than drivers in Miami, both coming in at 2 minutes per mile. Phoenix comes in third with the fastest mile drive time 2.14 minutes. Overall, the time it takes to drive a mile during 8-9am is less than 4-5pm. A morning mile takes 1.71-2.91 minutes, averaging 2.21 minutes across metros, whereas an evening mile ranges from 2.0-3.09 minutes, averaging 2.55 minutes across metros.

One Evening Mile: How many minutes it takes to drive one mile, 5pm-6pm local time

Rank from Fastest to Slowest Metro Minutes to drive one mile during 5pm-6pm rush
1 St Louis 2.00
2 Minneapolis 2.00
3 Phoenix 2.14
4 Riverside 2.23
5 San Diego 2.23
6 Denver 2.30
7 Dallas 2.35
8 Detroit 2.35
9 Tampa 2.41
10 Houston 2.43
11 Philadelphia 2.51
12 Atlanta 2.55
13 Seattle 2.59
14 Washington, D.C. 2.70
15 Boston 2.73
16 Chicago 2.77
17 San Francisco 2.84
18 Los Angeles 3.06
19 New York City 3.08
20 Miami 3.09


Data cleansing included conversion of raw data of meters per second to miles per hour and rounding to integers; removing outliers, invalid data, and erroneous GPS locations; capping dating at erratic or possibly unrealistic gps report of speed (eg: exceeding 125 mph). Quality checking included GPS distribution checks and metro area latitude/longitude average map plotting tests. Drive times were defined by their starting time, eg: if a driver departs at 6:45 and arrives at 8:15, their trip was incorporated into the 6-7am bracket.