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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Garden State Traffic

Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Jerseyans spend nearly 2 hours a day in their cars

Hey New Jersey drivers, you think you got it bad?  Well, you're right!  Compared to drivers elsewhere in the country, New Jerseyans encounter worse traffic, are more likely to get stuck in congestion and spend more time - 23 minutes longer on average - in their cars every day.

The latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  found nearly 4-in-10 New Jerseyans report getting stuck in traffic jams more than once a week, this includes 17% who encounter daily traffic jams and 22% who hit jams several times a week.  Another 24% get stuck in traffic several times a month and the remainder encounter jams infrequently (21%) or never (14%).

The 39% of Garden State residents who encounter multiple jams each week is significantly higher than the 24% of Americans who reported the same experience in an ABC News Poll conducted last year.

"Not that anyone really needs this confirmed, but New Jersey traffic is among the worst in the nation, and it's bad in every corner of the state," observed Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll also found that frequent traffic jams occur in every part of the state.  Leading the pack are residents of the Northern Shore area of the state.  Nearly half (48%) of Monmouth/Ocean county drivers report getting stuck in traffic jams at least several times a week.  They are closely followed in this dubious honor by drivers from the Northeast (43%), Delaware Valley (40%) and Urban Core counties (39%).  Just behind them are residents of the Route 1 Corridor (35%), Central Hills (34%) and the Garden Core (32%) counties.

So what's the bottom line of all this traffic?  The typical New Jerseyan - as either driver or passenger - spends almost 2 hours in a car every day - that's 110 minutes to be exact.  This is 23 minutes longer than the average American, who spends only 87 minutes in a car each day.

Which New Jerseyans spends the most time in their car?  That would be residents in the more remote Garden Core counties, clocking in at an average 140 minutes per day.  Also averaging at or just above the 2 hour mark are folks in the Delaware Valley (126 minutes) and Northeast (118 minutes).  Urban Core (101 minutes) and Route 1 Corridor (99 minutes) residents clock in at more than one and a half hours in their cars.  Central Hills residents have the shortest driving duration, spending only 86 minutes in their cars each day - the only New Jersey region to come near the national average.

The survey also indicates that having to chauffer your kids can add nearly half an hour to the typical New Jerseyan's drive time.  Parents spend an average of 128 minutes behind the wheel, compared to 101 minutes for those without kids.

The daily driving experience in New Jersey is also expressed in a negative opinion of traffic conditions in general.  Few residents give traffic conditions in their local area a positive rating of excellent (7%) or good (24%), as opposed to more than two-thirds who say local traffic conditions are only fair (33%) or poor (35%).  This is much more negative than the view across the country, where a majority of Americans view their local traffic conditions positively - 53% compared to only 31% here in New Jersey.

Regionally, it is no surprise that residents of the Northern Shore counties - who are most likely to get stuck in traffic jams - are the least positive about their local traffic conditions (22% positive).  What may be more puzzling, though, is why Central Hills residents - who spend the least time in their cars of all Garden State residents - are nearly as negative (only 23% positive).

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  was conducted by telephone with 802 New Jersey adults from July 11 to 13, 2006.  This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Gannett New Jersey newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, Home News Tribune, and Ocean County Observer).


Northeast  - Bergen, Passaic counties

Urban Core  - Essex, Hudson counties

Route 1 Corridor  - Mercer, Middlesex, Union counties

Central Hills  - Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset counties

Northern Shore  - Monmouth, Ocean counties

Delaware Valley  - Burlington, Camden, Gloucester counties

Garden Core - Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Sussex, Warren


The questions referred to in this release are as follows:  

1.         How would you rate the traffic conditions in your area - excellent, good, fair or poor?

2.         Just your best estimate, on an average day, how much time would you say you spend in a car for all reasons, including work, school, errands and leisure?

3.         How often do you, yourself, get stuck driving in traffic jams - every day, several times a week, several times a month, a few times a year, or never?

Results for this Monmouth University/Gannett NJ Poll  are based on telephone interviews conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on July 11-13, 2006 with a statewide random sample of 802 adult residents.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute's policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues which affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.  

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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