Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: Comparing Traffic Graphs

Grade Level:
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Activity Overview: In 2017, the Washington Post pulled together a national analysis of driving distance limitations imposed by traffic during rush hour. Based on the hypothetical scenario of attempting to drive away from a downtown area in America's largest cities, contributor Sahil Chinoy produced a series of graphic representations of the distance achievable when leaving at three different times. The analysis features Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio as well as other cities around the country.

This activity relies on some of the maps produced for this article. Project the maps or print them from the computer for your students. The questions following are appropriate for a group discussion or for an individual assignment.

Leaving town at rush hour? Here’s how far you’re likely to get from America’s largest cities.

Sahil Chinoy

In the section of the article titled "Gridlock in action," Dallas receives a direct comparison with Los Angeles, California. 

  1. Which city's traffic pattern allows an individual to drive 50 miles in one hour when leaving at 4 p.m.? [Dallas]
  2. When leaving downtown Los Angeles at 10 p.m., name one city that an individual could drive to in one hour? [Long Beach, Irvine] (Riverside city center is outside the reach of the blue shading on this map, but parts of Riverside County are included)
  3. What is the farthest city on the map that one can reach in one hour from downtown Dallas when departing at 7 p.m.? [Cleburne]
  4. Which city has a greater area of territory accessible in one hour when departing at 7 p.m.? [Dallas]

In the section of the article titled "Southwest and west," maps of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio appear in comparison with other cities.

  1. Travel accessibility in Houston is limited by what natural feature? [Galveston/Trinity Bay]
  2. In which Texas city is all land up to 25 miles away from the city center accessible within one hour when departing at 4 p.m.? [San Antonio] (Northwestern parts of Dallas, and western parts of the Houston are not accessible)
  3. According to the information provided here, at which departure times is it possible to reach San Marcos from downtown San Antonio within one hour? [departing at 7 p.m. or 10 p.m]
  4. Which Texas city has the largest area accessible within one hour from downtown when departing at any time of day? [Dallas]


SS.6.21C, SS.7.21C, SS.8.29C, SS.6.21F, SS.7.21F, SS.8.28H, SS.7.8A, SS.8.29

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