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Traffic Congestion, Fatality Rates Climb

Nearly 52 percent of United States urban Interstate highways are now congested and traffic fatality rates rose slightly, but road surface conditions and bridge conditions improved. This is according to the Reason Foundation's latest annual highway performance report.

Drivers in California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and North Carolina are stuck in the worst traffic, with more than 70 percent of their urban Interstates qualifying as congested.

The Reason Foundation study measures the performance of state-owned roads and highways from 1984 to 2005 in 12 categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance, and administrative costs, to determine each state's ranking.

This report finds that fatality rates vary significantly from state to state. Massachusetts reported the lowest fatality rate: 0.79 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Meanwhile, Montana's roads were the deadliest, with 2.256 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles. The national average was 1.453 fatalities, up slightly from 1.440 in 2004.

In the overall rankings, North Dakota and South Carolina took the top spots for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, New Jersey's gridlocked highways, poor pavement conditions, and high repair costs put the state last in overall cost-effectiveness for the eighth consecutive year.

Florida, California, Michigan, and New York are among the states joining New Jersey in the bottom 10. When it comes to comparing the nation's most populous states, Georgia (sixth overall), Texas (15th), and Ohio (16th) are the top-performing large states.

The full 16th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems, with detailed information for each state, is available online at

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