What Are the Worst Traffic Times in San Francisco?

by Staff | March 15th, 2021

San Francisco sees some of the heaviest traffic in the U.S. In fact, the Bay Area has the 7th worst traffic in the nation, according to INRIX, a company that provides location-based data and analytics.

INRIX determined that San Francisco commuters spent an average of 97 hours sitting in traffic in 2019 (and other studies estimate that time is even greater). If you’re one of the many commuters in the city, then you might be wondering what’s the worst time to get on the road (and get stuck in the dreaded San Francisco traffic).

The good news is that it’s not unpredictable! We’ve managed to pin down some of the worst traffic times in San Francisco. The bad news is that you might not be able to completely avoid these congested times of the day.

What Research Says About the Worst Traffic Times in San Francisco

In general, traffic peaks in San Francisco on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to the city’s own estimates. The Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute agreed to some extent, finding that the period between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday sees the most traffic congestion.

This makes sense, as these are common “rush hour” times. However, other studies have suggested that different times of the day also present heavy congestion on our roads. Zendrive found that 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. was the worst period of the day for traffic in San Francisco.

Where you’re located and where you’re headed can also impact your travel times in the Bay Area. For example, if you’re headed north on Interstate 680 over the Sunol Grade, rush hour can start as early as 2 p.m. and last until 8 p.m.

To some extent, the data tells us what we already know: traffic in San Francisco can be brutal. However, if you can avoid traveling during the afternoon rush hour and plan your route wisely, you might be able to shave off a few collective hours from the annual number of hours you spend behind the wheel.

Challenges Posed by San Francisco’s Heavy Traffic

Congested roads take a toll on the Bay Area in more ways than just frustration. First, there’s the potential “congestion pricing program” the city is considering. If implemented, drivers entering downtown and South of Market could be charged a fee in an effort to reduce the number of cars in these areas.

Second, those hours lost in traffic delays have an economic impact. INRIX estimates that the total annual economic cost of sitting in traffic is $1,348 per driver in the U.S. That’s because sitting in traffic jams digs into office hours, not to mention it subtracts from available recreational hours spent with loved ones or finding time to relax.

And, of course, heavy traffic and the frazzled nerves that come with it can put drivers at greater risks of being involved in certain types of crashes, including rear-end collisions and distracted driving accidents.

If You Need a Car Accident Attorney in San Francisco, Get Berg!

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our San Francisco car accident lawyers know how bad traffic can get. Not only do we also travel congested roads on the way into our many offices in Northern California, we represent clients who get severely injured in Bay Area car accidents.

We know the law, and we know what it takes to fight for the compensation our clients deserve. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, contact us anytime to get started.