The Petty Complaint:
Approaching a traffic jam is the transportation equivalent of being pelted by gamma radiation, transforming you into a profanity-bellowing, horn-mutilating Vehicular Hulk. You sit there every morning, not moving, with a growing suspicion that the world's engineers have designed traffic patterns with the explicit intention of making you -- you, specifically -- a half-hour late for work.
"Sorry, boss -- global traffic conspiracy."
The Huge Problem:
Let's start with the obvious: Sitting in clogged traffic causes us to waste an astonishing 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline a year in the U.S. alone, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). And yes, all of that combusted fuel is puking out exhaust that goes right into the atmosphere -- one study found that we could cut greenhouse emissions by up to 20 percent just by finding ways to freaking get traffic moving already (have you tried honking your horn?).
Have you tried honking it forever?
But then there's the other precious resource that's being wasted: fucking time. Traffic delays might seem silly to complain about when compared to the rest of the world's problems, but if you consider all the other things people could be doing with the time they spend sitting in their cars meticulously plotting the mass murder of every driver within a 5-mile radius, suddenly it's not so trivial anymore. Traffic, in other words, is murdering our productivity.
In 2007 alone, Americans spent over 500,000 collective years wading through traffic jams. That's over 4 billion hours -- and if you take the work that those individuals would have otherwise produced and factor in the aforementioned fuel they wasted, you're looking at over $87 billion the nation pissed away, just because we couldn't get from Point A to Point B fast enough.
Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
So whoever it was sitting with eyes closed at the green light air drumming to "In the Air Tonight," expect a bill.