"Crawl and stall” traffic” (or “stall and crawl” traffic) is an expression for when traffic slows down, cars crawl along, then stall, and then crawl along again. “Crawl and stall” has been cited in print since at least 1922, when it described Philadelphia’s traffic. “Stall and crawl” described New York City’s traffic in 1976.
Another term for “crawl and stall” is “beep and creep.”
13 October 1922, Saginaw (MI) News Courier, “Trifling Travelogs: Philadelphia” by W. H. Porterfield, pg. 3, col. 2:
The trolley cars run one way only, down and across, and as for taxis and trucks, they don’t run—they simply crawl and stall.
24 March 1964, Boston (MA) Herald, pg. 2, col. 1 ad:
“Me drive to the World’s Fair? Never! Why should I take the aggravation route of stop, start, crawl, and stall when I can fly right over it?”
(Eastern “Air Shuttle”—ed.)
14 August 1976, Boston (MA) Herald American, “‘Cannonball’ plot is just pretext for mayhem” by John Koch (film critic), pg. 8, col. 4:
THE PLOT about an illicit transcontinental race from the West Coast to stall-and-crawl Fun City is nothing more than a pretext for all this four-wheeled mayhem.
Google News Archive
8 April 1978, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), For Solitude, There’s No Place Like A Car” by Ellen Goodman, pg. 8, col. 4:
There is, after all, nothing especially convenient about wending through the “ creep and beep,” “stall and crawl” rush hour on city streets.
19 December 1979, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), “Truth Test: Commuting, Cost Of Home” by Ellen Goodman,
It does take him a mere 28 minutes to get to work if he times his test run for a dry midnight, presses his stop watch at the toll booth instead of the garage, and discounts the stall-and-crawl, mope and hope traffic from the freeway to the parking lot.
I Stand Corrected:
More On Language
By William Safire
New York, NY: Avon
So the traffic flow may be described as “beep and creep,” “bump and grump,” or “stall and crawl.”
By Darrel Montero and Judith McDowell
New York, NY: Macmillan; London: Collier Macmillan
There is, after all, nothing especially convenient about wending through the “creep and beep,” “stall and crawl” rush hour on city streets
The Body in the Belfry
By Katherine Hall Page
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
She ended up crossing the George Washington Bridge, or rather crawling across, at six o’clock listening to the “Eye Over Manhattan” helicopter reporter describe the traffic as “jam and cram,” “stall and crawl.”
13 May 1992, Boston (MA) Globe, “Ford on the road” by Michael Blowen, Living, pg. 42:
They’ve introduced phrases such as “gawker blocker,” “bumper thumper” and “stall ‘n’ crawl” to the vernacular.
New York (NY) Times
By Joseph P. Fried
Published: February 29, 2004
‘’Traffic on the Long Island Expressway is backed up to the Elmhurst tanks.’’
For years, this familiar refrain on radio traffic reports was as welcome to Manhattan-bound drivers on the highway’s Queens stretch as a nail in every tire. It threatened four miles of crawl and stall all the way to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.