DALLAS -- Just about 1,000 people lived in Little Elm when Steven Carter moved there in 1987. He commuted to Dallas for work and the drive-in was a breeze.
“It was pleasant,” Carter said about the daily routine. “When I first moved there, it took 30 minutes.”
But the population in the area grew.
The development grew.
And the time it took Steven to get to work grew.
By the turn of the century, the free and open road into work had turned into a two-hour odyssey that Steven could no longer stomach every day.
“I would not get home until 8 o’clock at night,” he said. “I remember one rainy day, I left work at 5 and got home after 9. That is a sizable chunk of my life just sitting in traffic.”
Rather than wasting away in gridlock, Steven moved to a house in Dallas just 12 miles from his job. His commute is once again 30 minutes and he arrives at work considerably less stressed.
However, moving to make the morning drive easier is not an option for most drivers, who work their way through more and more cars each year as area highways become increasingly clogged.
Dallas County has three of the top eight most congested roadways, according to Texas Department of Transportation Data.
Congestion also leads to danger.
The short distance on Woodall Rodgers between Interstate 35 and U.S. 75 is the most congested stretch in the area and saw 699 crashes in 2016. TxDOT says the most dangerous situations for drivers are where “weaving” occurs with drivers trying to get on and off highways over a limited distance.
Drivers getting onto Woodall Rodgers from northbound I-35 have likely experienced weaving, but TxDOT said distracted driving has exacerbated problems.
“We have seen a significant increase in distracted driving,” said Michael Morris with the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “70 percent of responsibility rests with the driver.“
Data shows crashes are most common where the major thoroughfares meet. Interstate 635 between I-35 and U.S. 75 is another standstill and averages nearly one crash a day at each intersection where it meets I-35, the Dallas North Tollway, and U.S. 75.
They're crashes that only create more delays for drivers who are already spending more time in traffic.
1. Woodall Rodgers Freeway from U.S. 75 to North Beckley
2. I-635 from I-35E to U.S. 75
3. I-35 from S.H. 183 to I-35
4. U.S. 75 from I-635 to Woodall Rodgers Freeway
5. I-35 from I-30 to U.S. 67