Metro Atlanta is No. 3 in gas guzzling

Metro Atlanta is home to above-average unemployment and foreclosures.

Now, you can add another unwanted distinction to the list — we’re the nation’s third-worst area for gas guzzling at a time of high pump prices, Forbes reports.

The average Atlanta household drives 21,300 miles a year, using 1050 gallons of gas, Forbes writes. At $4 a gallon, that’s $4,200.

We burn 35 gallons of gas a year sitting in traffic jams, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2010 Urban Mobility Report.

Metro Atlanta follows just two North Carolina areas — Raleigh-Durham-Chapel-Hill and Charlotte — for the top spots in gas guzzling, Forbes reports.

Forbes asked the Center For Neighborhood Technology, a think tank in Chicago, to come up with the numbers. It’s not enough to look at where gas prices are highest — what matters most is how many miles you drive, Forbes writes. The methodology utilizes data gathered by federal and state surveys that come from the odometers of thousands of cars nationwide. Excluded are the miles driven by trucks, buses and travelers just passing through on the highway.

The Research Triangle area of North Carolina is No. 1 because the cities and suburbs are close enough that people don’t think twice about driving from one place to the other, Forbes explained.

On the flip side, the Los Angeles area is not a guzzler, but a gas miser, Forbes reports. That’s because residents of centrally located areas of L.A. don’t have that far to drive to get to work or the beach. As a result, the L.A.-Long Beach area ranks second among the cities that use the least gasoline, Forbes writes.

New York ranks first as a gas miser because of its extensive subway system.

America’s biggest gas-guzzling metro areas

1. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill

2. Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill

3. Atlanta

4. Nashville

5. Monmouth-Ocean Counties, NJ

6. Greensboro-Winston Salem

7. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ

8. Jacksonville

9. Washington, D.C.

10. Riverside-San Bernardino

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

72 comments Add your comment

Enemas for Christ

May 24th, 2011
7:29 am

Have you seen how the idiots here drive? Hard on the throttle to every traffic light. 20 MPH over the speed limit, all while driving a mammoth SUV……Then they have the audacity to complain how they can’t afford gas.

Yeah right......

May 24th, 2011
7:36 am

Anybody that has actually traveled to LA knows that this article is lying. LA has stop and go traffic at 9PM!


May 24th, 2011
7:37 am

You fail to mention that Georgia (& the Southeast in general) also has more pickup trucks which use more gas. Our selection of vehicles generally is not the brightest. There are few farms anymore but traditionally most guys still grow up wanting a truck instead of a more economical vehicle. Go to New York or Boston…amazing how few trucks are on the road and most of those are businesses that need the cargo space.

Mr. Obvious

May 24th, 2011
7:39 am

One HUGE problem is the traffic lights. They are not designed to let traffic flow. Instead you will clear one light only to get stopped a block away at another red light. All that constant stopping and starting wastes GALLONS of gas plus its extra wear and tear on your cars brakes. I am beginning to think all people in Government are total imbeciles, especially the group in Washington, DC.


May 24th, 2011
7:44 am

Atlanta needs to work harder!! Next year, the top spot is ours!!


May 24th, 2011
7:46 am

Uh, most people in Georgia own pick up trucks because they need one. Let’s see you load a lawn mower in the back of your Prius.

Danny G

May 24th, 2011
7:48 am

The majority of red lights on major roads in Atlanta are timed, if you go the speed limit. If you have no traffic jam, or go the speed limit, you can go all the way downtown on Ponce de Leon Ave and not catch but one or two lights. Try it. It is fun.

Soccer Mom

May 24th, 2011
7:50 am

I drive the largest SUV I can find while wearing my visor and tennis skirt around all day. I drive my little darlings to the school door every day as I would never want them to ride the bus or walk. They are just too precious. Then I drive to the tennis courts to meet Buffy and Miranda. We play a few sets of tennis and then we drive to a nice bistro for lunch while still wearing our visors and tennis shorts. After a nice leisurely lunch I might drive to the mall to get in a little shopping before driving to pick up my little darlings so they don’t have to walk or ride the bus, which passes right by our house. Then I drive to the fast-food restaurant and sit in the drive-thru to get dinner for my family before my hubby gets home. Whew…what a busy day for all us gigantic SUV driving soccer moms. So is gas really expensive? I just put that little plastic card into the pump and can get all the gas I want..

Bob from Cobb

May 24th, 2011
7:52 am

@ Danny G. You must have never driven in Cobb County. Traffic lights are awful here. Rarely can you get through more than 2 at a time. Even my wife complains how bad they are so I know its not just me.


May 24th, 2011
7:59 am

This place has a lot of transplants driving like idiots!! Yep, I’m one of them, do 70mph on the connector or get the F out of my way, gas be dammed!!!!


May 24th, 2011
8:00 am

Good one Soccer Mom. I needed that laugh. I’m shocked Houston Texas did not make the top 10.


May 24th, 2011
8:04 am

Soccer Mom, I love it!!!

David Staples

May 24th, 2011
8:08 am

willydoit – As a farm owner, I have a need for my pickup truck and large SUV. But the lawn mower argument seems a bit silly. How many people seriously haul their lawnmower around town on a regular basis?

Henry Stamm

May 24th, 2011
8:10 am

This study must have been prepared by Al Gore’s cronies.
I left New Your, his most favorite city, to South Florida and than to Gwinnett County and than to the Suburbs. For the life style, no traffic.
I been in LA, Orange County CA, Chicago, NYC, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa, Miami (sorry i did not bring the fag with me), and the other so called none guzzling cities, I would never ever move there. Build faster moving highways and less skyscrapers and problem solved. Mass transit has only worked properly in NYC but the Unions are working hard to destroy that toooooooooo.


May 24th, 2011
8:10 am

This just goes to prove that Metro Atlanta’s mass transit system is inadequate. And yet there are plans on the table to raise rates for not picking you up where you are and then not taking you where you want to go!

Blah Blah Blah!!!

May 24th, 2011
8:10 am

I live in Lithonia and work in Lawrenceville and I also agree that the stop lights are a mess, they actually create lots of unwanted traffic, the lights seem to have a mind of their own, they wait until you get within several feet of them and magically turn red (instantly) everytime!!! It drives me crazy!!!!!

Another factor...

May 24th, 2011
8:13 am

We have a lot of people who drive with their phone in their ear. Therefore they are not paying attention to the flow of traffic, they usually are going too slow, costing everyone time at lights, and they are a accident waiting to happen!


May 24th, 2011
8:18 am

Did they stop to consider the size of the metro Atlanta area? You can call further in the Atlanta area without a toll than any other place in the WORLD. We get traffic reports from Cartersville to halfway to Macon. And someone is surprised that we drive 20K miles a year?


May 24th, 2011
8:30 am

I’ll 2nd what Mr. Obvious said . . .

One HUGE problem is the traffic lights. They are not designed to let traffic flow. Instead you will clear one light only to get stopped a block away at another red light. All that constant stopping and starting wastes GALLONS of gas plus its extra wear and tear on your cars brakes.

Gil In Mechanicsville

May 24th, 2011
8:30 am

Okay, got it, don’t bother visiting the Atlanta area or go on vacation to Georgia because a lot of you folks don’t like people who drive SUVs or pick-up trucks. That’s okay, I think I can find some place that appreciates my business.

JJS Is that you in the guise of Soccer Mom?

native atlantan

May 24th, 2011
8:37 am

Im above the average, and iI drive my suv approx 25,000 miles per year, mostly in the greater Atlanta area.


May 24th, 2011
8:43 am

I would like to know how many gallons Atlantans burn while their car is in park. You have the soccer moms lining up in front of the schools with their engines running and the air conditioner blowing, the fast food drive thru lines, and people leaving their kids in the car with the air conditioner and the DVD player running while they play tennis.

Cujo Bendi

May 24th, 2011
8:44 am

Most people that live in the Atlanta don’t have enough sense to get a job close to home. They live in Duluth and work in Marietta. Or live in Atlanta and work in freaking Lawrenceville. Go figure.


May 24th, 2011
8:45 am

I don’t get the traffic light timing either. If I am on the same road with no traffic why do I hit 3 greens a red, a green, 2 more reds. The retards who time the lights all around town need to be shot.


May 24th, 2011
8:47 am

@Cujo – Ever worked somewhere and had the office move to the other side of town? It happens all the time. Ever been laid off?


May 24th, 2011
8:49 am

I think what people are trying to say is that don’t complain about gas prices and traffic if all you do is TRY AND AVOID public transportation with your gas guzzling SUV, H3 etc etc……

Monroe Burbank

May 24th, 2011
8:53 am

People down here just don’t think. They ain’t that bright. Think I’m wrong, the next time your sitting in a large retail store’s parking lot and it’s raining, watch how many people come and go from their cars without umbrellas. Many Georgians don’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain.


May 24th, 2011
9:12 am

I guess the gas fumes are getting to some of the folks here. THINK. The bigger cities aren’t high on the list because they have public transportation. If you will notice, the cities in the top 3 do not have any kind of public transportation worth noting.


May 24th, 2011
9:13 am

Why not throw enough tax incentives at companies where they basically have to let us lemmings telecommute? Cuts traffic, reduces fuel usage, reduces stress, allows me more time to see my kids, saves the company money, happier employees, the list goes on and on.


May 24th, 2011
9:20 am

David Staples
But with having a truck, I can haul whatever I need to whenever I need to without having to borrow a pick up from a friend. We live in a society where the automobile is a necessary evil, car or truck…does it really matter which one you have?


May 24th, 2011
9:30 am

I guess the question each household should be asking “is this trip necessary and how can I use my drive time wisely? Make a list of what needs to be accomplished with the car for the week then plan the errands accordingly. As for soccer mom- you are absolutely funny and correct. I drifve less than 5K per year so someone else is using miles to make this average.


May 24th, 2011
10:01 am

Ah the delightful 3rd world smells of mass transit..thats the answer..

So much hatred on the ajc blogs for those of us in the outer burbs..
I will just have to pout until this weekend when I go to a party at my ITP friends
highrise condo, then I can smirk knowing that it’s $125k underwater because the
developer sold remaining units at auction.


May 24th, 2011
10:02 am

@Soccer Mom

That. Was. Awesome. Well played.


May 24th, 2011
10:04 am

Monroe Burbank, how many of the folks you are calling stupid are native Georgians? Possibly one in ten. It’s the idiots like you that make our state look bad.

HEMI powered pickup man

May 24th, 2011
10:09 am

yup, I drive a HEMI powered pick-up. My MPGs are the same if I drive like little ol granny or 16 year old punk kid. 15 MPG. I dont complain about my $100 plus dollar fill up, 1.5 times a week. I drive big because I dont wanna get killed by the insanely distracted drivers we have out here.


May 24th, 2011
10:09 am

Cujo Bendi,you and Homer are clueless and apparently are the ones with no sense. We all have choices and live the consequences of those choices. However, not everyone has the luxury of finding a good job so close to home that they do not have to “commute” to work. Most jobs outside of Atlanta do not pay enough to make ends meet, so many like myself commute long distances (150 miles rt) every day. Yes, it is my choice because I have “chosen” to have a quality of life outside of my job that means living among beautiful scenery, peace and quite, less people, traffic, and noise. MY choice-and I pay the consequence financially and physically by commuting and knowing in doing so I will spend more in gas and time no matter what I drive. It is also my choice and right to drive whatever I want as long as I pay for the vehicle, insurance and maintenance on that vehicle, and I pay for the gas that I put into that vehicle. Some of us SUV and PU Truck owners do know how to be sensible in their driving. I commute in my car, but if I need or want to drive my “gas guzzling” SUV, that is my right to do so and I will because I enjoy driving it, especially when I can take it off the beaten path to get away from people with attitudes such as so many posted. No one should judge or blame anyone else if they drive a pickup or SUV or condemn parents who want to haul their kids to play sports or to the lake. At least they are active and socializing. What anyone drives in this country is not the root of the problem, so please give it a rest. There will always be a need for pickup trucks and SUVs, unless your little Prius and the like (no offense, just personally want a chance if someone hits me!)can pull a trailer, boat, or camper, or haul lumber, pine straw, hay or other things. Just saying-look at the big picture and stop focusing on those that choose to drive something different. We still reserve the right to complain and can if the high price of gas is not from a shortage, natural disaster or war, but because the world has become greedy in the love of money. Just saying, you know, we all have to share the roads and the burden of high prices together so accept that not everyone will think or believe the same or drive the same vehicle or distance. There are much more important things going on in life to place our energy into.


May 24th, 2011
10:15 am

ditto redhousecat. and yes, Homer and Janet: it IS actually possible to turn off your engine while waiting in the bank line, and after more than two years of unemployment during 4.00 per gal gas prices, I got into the habit of only driving where I need to and combining errands. It just makes sense, like continuing to conserve water even when the drought is declared over. For Atlanta, it’s the pollution question as well.


May 24th, 2011
10:21 am

As long as employers still make people come into the office everyday to work on a computer to do web programming, nothing is going to change. These employers need to wake up and start saving themselves and their employees money. Most jobs could be done from home, especially web development of all things.

Blame it on the employers!


May 24th, 2011
10:31 am

Those of you that think you are “safe” in those big trucks and SUVs are deceived. Most car manufactures have the most markup in Trucks and SUVs and are most happy for those that think they are safer in these tanks, as well as the oil companies. Do some research! You are safer in a smaller to mid sized sedan in accidents. Stop justifying owning large vehicles for safety purposes!

oh no

May 24th, 2011
11:03 am

i drive a full size F150 crew cab , gas guzzling fully loaded truck and dont give a damn about the 15 mpg i get or $4 a gallon gas price because i have a great job and make alot of money !

Rev. Rapture

May 24th, 2011
11:09 am

“We burn 35 gallons of gas a year sitting in traffic jams,…”

We’ve heard this for many, many years now but nothing ever gets done about it. Wait…I know, let’s pay someone $1 million to conduct a study to tell us how bad it is. Forget that one for awhile, then pay for another study, then another…………..


May 24th, 2011
11:18 am

oh no, you may have a great job and make a lot of money….you can’t spell a lot is two words.


May 24th, 2011
11:19 am

I think a lot of people drive because they have to, not because they actually want to. it really doesn’t matter how you slice this pie, you got to pay to roll in the A. One problem is that everything is so DAMN FAR APART. HEY maybe we ALL should move to a little town called “ALL WE DO IS WHINE”!!!


May 24th, 2011
11:28 am

People don’t get SUVs for safety. They get them because it helps them compensate for having small ‘anatomies’ or low self-esteem. Being that much higher than everyone else on the road somehow makes these pathetic shells of human beings feel better.

Traffic Lights

May 24th, 2011
11:32 am

Yes, traffic lights are certainly an issue. Let’s not forget that if you work close to where you live you don’t clock that many miles. I work less than 5 miles from home. Give yourself a break and move or change jobs!


May 24th, 2011
11:34 am

I bought a bicycle… now I ride that everywhere within 10 miles of where I live. I usually only go further than that a few times a month

Wes Georgia Native

May 24th, 2011
11:41 am

Every transplant that has moved here did so on their own accord. While your company may have relocated here, no one really forced you to move with it. Admittingly, Atlanta is very spread out and MARTA sucks (it always has). So this article is no surprise at all, but please don’t complain about it. You always have the option of going back from where ever you came from.


May 24th, 2011
11:43 am

Hey Steve, do you even have a dugan?? or does your wife keep it in a jar by the bed?


May 24th, 2011
11:57 am

We have a 19th-century street system that, ever since Campbell’s administration, has been left to fall apart. Traffic engineering in the metro area is wretched, and the chief problem (beyond the sorry state of the streets and roads) is too many red lights. The bad infrastructure leads to far more driving than is necessary, and it leads to greater, more reckless speed as people try to rush their way through the mess. I would suggest that if we had a better-designed infrastructure, people might be inclined to be less wasteful and less reckless. Make it easier for people to get around, and they may actually drive less.

1. Redesign the street grid THROUGH THE REGION, not just the city of Atlanta, to minimize left turns. This is being done in other cities. Fewer left turns = fewer traffic delays and fewer accidents.

2. Synchronize red lights in a coherent system, again, throughout the region.

3. Fund transportation building for the Beltline. Get the darned thing going so people can start using it.

4. Bring the metro region under one transit authority, MARTA to be included in it, that provides public transportation consistently and SAFELY throughout the metro area.

5. Re-deploy existing rail lines to include passenger rail travel. They used to carry passenger traffic, so why can’t they do that again? All that would have to be done is that you’d need to rebuild some passenger rail stations, build new ones where the old ones can’t be used, and you have instant traffic relief in line with what has been in use in the midwest and northeast since the middle of the 19th century. Why do we let the rail companies get away with hogging the rail lines when we need them to carry people?

6. Convert some streets to bike-only avenues, and create more bike paths wherever possible. Find ways of making bicycles easier to use. This solves a host of problems, not the least of which would be getting some of our lardass residents off their butts. It’s hard to smoke, drink coffee, eat your egg mcmuffin and talk on your cell phone while you’re riding a bike, so bicycle avenues would help with some of the distracted driving.

leg watcher

May 24th, 2011
12:14 pm

hey Steve , we drive SUVs and big trucks so we can look down at your wifes legs