Owning a car is convenient, but it’s also expensive and risky. While many drivers across the U.S. enjoy traffic-free, toll-free roads and relatively low gas prices, car owners in major cities wake up dreading the morning commute. Living in certain cities will make you want to ditch your personal vehicle for good.
Like any other highly-congested city with high parking costs and a high number of auto thefts, San Francisco is a place you might want to consider an alternative commuting method. San Francisco houses some of the most expensive parking meters in the nation: up to $4.25 hourly, with a $65 fine for expired meters. California also has the most expensive red-light camera tickets in the world; red light fines run around $480. One recent study in San Francisco found that 98 percent of tickets at one red-light camera were for rolling right turns, so it’s safe to say it’s easy to get slapped with an almost-$500 ticket here.
With California gas prices averaging the highest in the nation — and with California cities accounting for 12 of the 20 worst cities for car theft — a bike or a pair of good running shoes might be your best bet for getting to work anywhere in the city. San Francisco is also one of the best cities to find a car-sharing program like ZipCar or Car2Go, where you can pay by the minute or hour to rent a (perhaps spiffy and electric) car. Bike-sharing programs are also popular in San Francisco.
New York City
The densest city in America is obviously one of the worst to drive in, due to outrageous parking and tolls costs. With tolls ranging from $9 to $13 (the highest in the nation), you won’t want to be driving between Brooklyn and Staten Island. New York City is tied with San Francisco for highest parking meter expiration fines at $65. The city also ranks at number one for the highest number of speed traps in the nation, and traffic fatalities were up last year. Time to buy an umbrella and a MetroCard.
The National Motorists Association reports that Atlanta ranks first for most ticket-happy metro areas in the U.S. It gets worse: Georgia adds a state fine of $200 on top of any speeding ticket for going over 75 miles per hour (or 85 miles per hour on a freeway). This comes on top of municipality-level fines, which can be as high as $1,000.
Illinois is known for its hefty speeding fines. If pulled over for speeding, you can be fined $1,000 — even as a first-time offender. You’ll also have a hard time avoiding parking tickets, but you can always check out Chicago City’s official tips for avoiding parking tickets.
Anywhere in Hawaii
Not even considering Hawaii’s outrageous gas prices, you’ll want to take advantage of the amazing weather and walk or bike around town. Between gas, insurance, financing, and depreciation, the average 5-year cost of vehicle ownership is around $53,163, according to Forbes. It’s also not hard to rack up a large bill for speeding tickets here; last March about 500 traffic-related citations were issued to motorists during a five-hour period along the Leeward Coast by Honolulu Police Department .
Forget the horrible traffic — D.C. drivers are terrible. They experience an average of just under five years between accidents, while smaller U.S. cities like Boise and Sioux Falls, ND average nearly 14 years between wrecks. On a positive note, D.C. lowered traffic fines in November for offenders caught going 5-15 miles over the speed limit, although those caught going 16 and over still face a hefty penalty of $300. These changes are a relief to D.C. drivers who — thanks to the camera enforcement system — paid nearly $85 million in fines last fiscal year.
While public transportation is expensive and walking in the rain stinks, doing without a car can save you oodles of money on insurance, maintenance, parking, and tickets –especially in these big cities.