Driving in Atlanta is painful — but it’s far from the worst

Got the Atlanta commute blues? At least you don’t live in San Francisco or Detroit.

» RELATED: The latest Atlanta traffic news

According to a new report on the best and worst cities to drive in from personal finance website WalletHub, Atlanta barely cracks the worst 50 in the country. Yay, us?

For the new analysis, WalletHub researchers compared the 100 most populated U.S. city propers across four key dimensions: cost of ownership and maintenance; traffic and infrastructure; safety; and access to vehicles and maintenance.

» RELATED: Atlanta traffic among worst in the world, study finds

The best city in the nation for drivers, according to the report, is Raleigh, North Carolina, which also topped the cost of ownership and maintenance category.

Corpus Christi in Texas and Orlando, Florida rounded out the top three.

Detroit, San Francisco and Oakland, California ranked worst.

Atlanta came in at No. 49 on the list, a huge improvement from last year's No. 70 rank.

» RELATED: Metro Atlanta's 10 most consistently awful traffic hotspots

In addition to the city's significant jump from the 2017 report, Atlanta ranked among the best cities for access to vehicles and maintenance this year. The category assessed the number of car dealerships, auto-repair shops, car washes, gas stations and parking lots/garages per capita.

Here’s more on how Atlanta fared:

  • Overall rank: 49
  • Cost of ownership and maintenance: 24
  • Traffic and infrastructure: 62
  • Safety: 94
  • Access to vehicles and maintenance: 9

While Atlanta didn’t rank in the absolutely bottom of the lot for America’s worst cities to drive in, it certainly scored among the worst in safety — and among the five cities with the highest annual hours spent in congestion per auto commuter.

» RELATED: How bad is Atlanta traffic? It depends on how you look at it

According to transportation analytics firm INRIX, which ranked Atlanta among the worst in the world for congestion, the average commuter spends 70.8 hours in traffic each year.

But compare that to the 290-hour annual national average reported by WalletHub and you may breathe a sigh of relief.

» RELATED: These are the deadliest stretches of road in metro Atlanta

"For a full-time worker, that's the equivalent of a seven-week vacation. Add the costs of wasted time and fuel due to traffic congestions, and our collective tab comes to about $124 billion annually, or $1,700 per household," report authors wrote.

As for Atlanta's driving safety rank, which factored in figures like accident likelihood, traffic fatality rates, driving law ratings and more, the city was named one of the worst 10 cities in the nation.

» RELATED: Surprise, surprise: Georgia drivers ranked among worst in the nation

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Association ranked Georgia's I-285 the deadliest interstate in America.

In another study using 2013-2015 data from the U.S. Census and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, Atlanta had 13 of the deadliest stretches of road in the state. The stretches, totaling nearly 40 miles, accounted for 97 fatal crashes and 101 fatalities, the AJC previously reported.

» RELATED: Photos: Weird things that have snarled Atlanta traffic

On July 1 this year, the state enacted the Hands-Free law, which prohibits drivers from holding cell phones while driving.

Why the law is needed, according to headsupgeorgia.com:

“Our state has seen significant increases in vehicle traffic crashes, fatalities and bodily injury. The vast majority of these increases have been in rear-end crashes, single-car crashes and crashes by drivers from 15 to 25-years-old. State and local law enforcement have stated that these incidents are a clear indication of driver inattention. The 15 states that have passed hands-free driving laws saw a 16 percent decrease in traffic fatalities in the two years after the law was passed. In addition, traffic fatalities were reduced even further in subsequent years.”

More about Georgia's Hands-Free law at AJC.com.

» For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.