Study: L.A. traffic is slightly improving

SYLMAR, Calif. It's a very small change, but traffic has dropped off slightly, and the latest study attributes the change to a sour economy and rising gas prices.

The study comes out of Houston, Texas, from the 2009 urban mobility report, which is published by the Texas Transportation Institute.

According to the study, drivers spent one hour less stuck in traffic in 2007 than the year prior.

The L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana area still has the worst traffic in the U.S., while Washignton's traffic is getting worse. The nation's capital now ranks second.

The Washington, D.C. area is followed by Atlanta, GA and Houston, TX.

The San Francisco-Oakland area came in fifth.

Drivers in the L.A. area wasted an average of 72 hours in traffic in 2006, but only spent 70 hours in traffic in 2007.

Nationally, drivers wasted an average of 36.1 hours in 2007, down from 36.6 hours in 2006 and a 25-year high of 37.4 hours in 2005.

The difference is small, but it represents a rare break in near constant growth.

However, as the economy rebounds, traffic is expected to build once again.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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