• December 10, 2023

Traffic jams cause New Yorkers to lose cool after 16 minutes, survey says


Stuck in gridlock? Try not to fret. In New York, it takes 16 minutes of traffic bottleneck for drivers to start losing their cool, at least according to a new national survey.

That’s when aggravation and annoyance starts to kick in, the recent traffic survey conducted by Seattle-based insurance company Assurance IQ found.

In the sprawling suburbs of Long Island, where motorists are bound to bump into the inevitable traffic jam, patience is a hot commodity — especially when 15-mile treks can turn into hourlong-plus ordeals, burning time, gas and rubber.

The survey, which provided a window into how traffic impacts drivers, found that 20% of those polled in the state confessed to weaving in and out of lanes during congestion, and a majority preferred to look for a way around it, rather than sit idle or search maps for a faster route.

Vicky Mandaro, a school bus driver who picks up children from a Woodbury school, deals daily with the driving attitude. She’s been in the transportation industry for 34 years and steers through gridlock, watching people’s tempers go from zero to 60 seemingly instantly as reckless behaviors unfold.

“It’s more like 0.0 seconds here because people don’t know how to drive,” said school bus driver Vicky Mandalo, from Brooklyn. Credit: Rick Kopstein

She said the 16-minute fuse found in the survey seemed like a stretch.

“It’s more like 0.0 seconds here because people don’t know how to drive,” said Mandaro, of Brooklyn, who spoke at a Syosset gas station. “Do you know how many times a day this bus gets cut off on the Southern State?”

Traffic would move smoothly if rules were followed, she said. But in this region, their aggression won’t win them too many perks.

“It’s sad; the best is they just rush to catch up to more traffic,” Mandaro said.

New Yorkers used to congestion

The point at which traffic starts to rile up New Yorkers is two minutes longer than the national average, according to the report, which states that getting vexed while driving can up the chances of a collision, and in turn make for pricier auto insurance.

New Yorkers might have a higher acceptance for traffic because they’re used to congestion, according to Laurel Calabek, a promotion analyst with Assurance IQ who helped draft the survey questions.

Motorist John Makresias, 47, of Plainview, agreed.

“I’m docile. I’ve been driving in the city now for over 35 year so it doesn’t really bother me,” he said.

Even nationally, traffic is taking its toll. Fifty-one percent of the 3,198 people surveyed across 44 states said they would drive up to 20 miles out of the way to avoid gridlock.

“I think that just shows the magnitude of how annoying traffic can be for a lot of people,” said Lanie Martin, the survey’s creator and production analyst at Assurance IQ. The company said the survey could help insurance companies amend their risk assessment models.

Like 75% of Americans surveyed who are likely to switch their departure time to avoid traffic, Seaford resident Debbie McLaughlin, 60, said she’s tried leaving her house at different hours but can’t find a way to beat congestion.

“Sometimes you try to plan things and say, ‘OK, let me wait, I’ll leave at 10.’ But it doesn’t matter,” McLaughlin said while fueling up at a Syosset gas station.

“Literally, you get on the highway and you’re sitting in a parking lot. I just can’t believe it’s every time and it’s really aggravating,” she said.

After living in the area for more than 20 years, she’s noticing more vehicles on the roads.

“I’ve seen the change, and it’s gotten worse and worse,” McLaughlin said.

Thirty-five percent of poll respondents would consider making significant life changes to avoid congestion.

Kat Wagner, who started a Facebook group, “Bad Long Island Drivers Caught on dashcam,” several months ago, said the traffic has her considering skipping town — for good.

“It’s so congested over here, I’ve been thinking about leaving,” said Wagner, of Oceanside.

She said it took her nearly 30 minutes to get from Lynbrook to Oceanside recently, a less than three-mile trip. “That’s not OK,” she said.

Traffic unleashes furor for some

The survey also asked respondents how different levels of traffic triggered road rage, on a rising scale of 1 to 5, from none to extreme.

For the majority of respondents across the nation, or 46%, daily traffic conditions did not trigger any road rage, but another 31% said they felt low levels of road rage, while 6% felt high levels.

Heavy traffic triggered a medium level of road rage in 31% and a high level in 24% of respondents nationwide. Meanwhile, 9% felt extreme road rage during those same heavy conditions.

While no breakdown was provided specifically for New York, it’s not unheard of for drivers to fly off the handle here.

Steven and Cindy Goldberg of Sag Harbor, have seen drivers’ impatience on the roads. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Steven Goldberg, 77, of Sag Harbor, said he keeps his emotions in check but has seen others unleash their furor in offensive or hazardous ways.

“Flicking the finger, people passing yellow lines,” he said. His wife, Cindy Goldberg, 75, said their daughter, who now lives in Rochester, stopped driving altogether because of her own anger issues behind the wheel. She gets driven instead.

Drivers pulled over six or more times were likely to experience the highest levels of road rage during daily traffic — compared to drivers pulled over five times or less.

When it comes to blaring the horn, most drivers across the country show some restraint, with 54% claiming they rarely honk.

Thirteen percent acknowledge occasional horn use, and 3% admit to honking often. Thirty percent said they never press the horn.

Cindy Goldberg, who also spoke at the Syosset gas station, was one of those motorists who never honks. “I don’t even know where the horn is,” she said.

The two states with the least tolerance for traffic are Arizona and Nebraska, where 10 minutes of backups would put them on edge, the survey found.

Georgians had the most patience, only getting aggravated after the 21-minute traffic mark.

The survey also was conducted to encourage safer driving habits while raising awareness about how driving behaviors impact insurance premiums, according to Kate Long, consumer financial advocate at Assurance IQ.


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