The American Highway Users Alliance says new commuting-trend data shows that “the federal government should make real traffic congestion relief a national priority.”

Newly released census data on U.S. commuting indicates that in 2000, Americans spent an average of 24.3 minutes commuting in one direction, which is up from 22.4 minutes in 1990 — a net increase of more than four minutes extra spent commuting each day.

The AHUA asserts that “it's time to reduce the time it takes to drive by car,” noting that the data also indicate more commuters than ever drive alone, refuting claims that the nation's workers are gradually choosing mass-transit options. The association also backs a 1999 study conducted by a transportation research firm that calls for fixing the nation's 167 worst bottlenecks as a first and critical step toward easing total U.S. traffic flow.

That report claims that nearly one billion gallons of fuel are wasted in the nation's worst traffic bottlenecks and that commuters who must endure these points unnecessarily spend an extra 40 minutes per day navigating the bottlenecks.