THEY call it “road rage” for a reason: few modern experiences are more exasperating than being trapped in a traffic jam. A new report published by INRIX, a transport-data company, finds that congestion inflicts high economic costs as well as emotional ones. In a study based on GPS data from some 300m cars and devices, the firm measured when and where traffic slowed to a crawl along 5m miles of roads, spanning 1,360 cities in 38 countries. It also converted these figures into dollars of economic impact, combining both direct costs like time and fuel wasted and indirect ones, such as high consumer prices caused by the elevated shipping prices resulting from congestion. Between Britain, Germany and the United States, these costs totalled $461bn last year, or $975 per person.

The top of INRIX’s worst-traffic rankings pass the smell test: the city that suffered the most total hours per driver lost to congestion at peak travel times in 2017 was Los Angeles, with 102. Tinseltown’s roads are not, on average, more clogged than those of other American cities: it was Boston that saw the highest share of total driving time stuck in traffic, at 14%. However, because the city is so sprawling, Angelenos must travel much further to reach their destinations than commuters in other cities do. Holding the congestion rate constant, longer distances lead to more wasted hours.

Among American cities, the second-worst offender was New York, a town more renowned for its metro system than for its car culture. The Big Apple accounts for a whopping 41% of all rides on public transit in the United States. Nonetheless, its reliance on its subway reflects necessity as well as commuters’ preferences: traffic jams in New York move far slower than those in Los Angeles or San Francisco do. The indirect costs of congestion in America’s economic capital are also unusually high, as businesses that need to stock their shelves with goods have to rely on shipping by road. Overall, INRIX calculates that congestion cost New York some $34bn last year, by far the highest sum in the study. A decade ago Michael Bloomberg, then the city’s mayor, tried to institute a much-needed congestion charge but was stymied by the New York state legislature. Future advocates of such schemes will be able to wield more convincing data to make their case.

Internationally, the worst countries for drivers in the INRIX database were developing economies with capital cities whose road and public-transit systems have not kept pace with population growth. In Thailand, drivers lost an average of 56 hours a year to congestion at peak travel times; Indonesia and Colombia came second and third with 51 and 49. Similarly, the worst place to drive in Europe was Russia, which accounted for five of the continent’s ten most congested cities. Leaving aside London and Paris, whose jams go hand in hand with their large populations and economies, the rest of the European rankings are dominated by Germany. Although the country’s cities tend to be mid-size rather than massive and enjoy modern infrastructure, their roads are still clogged by shipments of goods heading to and from seaports.