September 18, 2007 4:15 PM, EDT

Report Cites Congestion Problems Nationwide

Tannen Maury/Bloomberg News

Drivers waste nearly an entire work week each year sitting in traffic on the way to and from their jobs, according to a national study released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. motorists drivers languished in traffic delays for a total of 4.2 billion hours in 2005, up from 4 billion hours the year before, according to the Texas Traffic Institute’s urban mobility report. That equates to about 38 hours per driver, AP said.

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said: “The daily frustration of drivers on our roadways is ample evidence that our current transportation model is broken, and that bold thinking and leadership are needed.

“We’re never going to solve congestion with higher federal gas taxes or additional earmarks; instead, we need fresh approaches like new technology, congestion pricing and greater private sector investment to get American moving again,” Peters said.

The study estimates that drivers wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel while sitting in traffic. Together with the lost time, traffic delays cost the nation $78.2 billion, the study said.

High gasoline prices appear to have cut into optional driving but not commuting to work, AP said, citing David Schrank, an associate research scientist at the Texas Transportation Institute.