Back-seat Driver: What was Sacramento's worst traffic day in 2012?

04/19/2013 12:00 AM

08/25/2013 11:09 PM

Was something unusual happening in Sacramento almost exactly one year ago today? We ask that because a traffic analysis indicates that Friday, April 20, was the most congested day of 2012 on Sacramento roads.

The study was conducted by TomTom, maker of car mapping and routing gadgets, which runs a real-time traffic database.

There were no major events, gatherings, crashes or road closures in Sacramento that day, that we know of.

San Francisco's worst day was a Thursday in June when a fire shut down Bay Area Rapid Transit. San Jose's was a December Friday when a crash closed Interstate 280. Los Angeles clogged worst on the day the space shuttle Endeavour took its piggyback ride over California.

But what of Sacramento last April 20. Our best guess is that the weather spike that weekend – into the 90s – made that Friday the opening day for the get-outdoors season.

Fridays pop up most often as bad traffic days, practically year-round, including in summer. Our experts say it's because Friday afternoons mix homebound commuters with drivers headed out of town for the weekend.

Caltrans, which also tracks traffic, says its records show the Sacramento area's worst traffic day last year was March 16, also a Friday.

Overall, Sacramento is not highly congested, the study found. It ranks 31st out of 59 cities. TomTom calculates that Sacramentans are delayed 21 minutes per hour driven during peak periods.

By comparison, San Franciscans and San Joseans are delayed 35 minutes. The most congested TomTom city nationally was Los Angeles, where commuters suffer 39-minute delays.

One bit of TomTom data seems pretty hard to maneuver our brains around: TomTom says New York is only the 14th most congested city in the country, tied with Austin, Texas. Maybe it's smoother sailing out on Staten Island, but in midtown Manhattan, traffic gets so famously stuck that riders jump out of cabs early because they can walk the last few blocks faster.

Teen drinking deaths

It's well known that teen drinking and driving are a deadly mix. But a new analysis, highlighted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, notes that many alcohol-related teen deaths happen off the road.

The breakdown includes road deaths, 32 percent; homicides, 30 percent; suicides, 14 percent; and alcohol poisonings, 9 percent.

MADD's message to parents: Talk to your teens about this. For tips on how, go to

Intersection closure

The North Scott and White Rock roads intersection will be closed today through 6 a.m. Monday morning for major upgrades, Sacramento County officials say. Detour information will be posted.

Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.

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