BRITAIN’S roads are the most gridlocked in Europe and drivers spend an average of 32 hours a year stuck in traffic, according to research.
The study said that Britain was the fourth worst developed nation for congestion and that London was the world’s seventh-most gridlocked city, ahead of Bangkok, Mexico City, Jakarta and Rio. Congestion in Britain was costing the economy £31bn a year in fuel costs and lost productivity, it said.
Speeds on the most congested roads in the capital dropped to 4mph at peak times — barely more than walking pace. The research also claimed that drivers typically spent a quarter of their time in tailbacks.
Manchester, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh were also among Britain’s top five cities for congestion, according to the research by Inrix, which provides traffic data.
The study has led to a call by Inrix for the introduction of road tolls to regulate traffic flows.
Graham Cookson, its chief economist, said: “Despite Brexit, 2016 saw the UK economy remaining stable, fuel prices staying low and employment growing to an 11-year high, all of which incentivises road travel and helped increase congestion.
“The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly. To tackle this problem we must consider bold options such as remote working, wider use of road user charging and investment in big data to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems.”
The study was based on an analysis of GPS data taken from 300m cars in more than 40 countries last year. A potential bottleneck is identified when vehicles travel at 65% or less of the usual speed for a stretch of road.
The research, which covered 87 towns and cities in Britain, found that it was the 11th worst country for congestion. Drivers spent an average of 32 hours a year stuck in traffic. This cost an average of £968 in extra fuel for each driver, lost productivity and the extra costs to businesses, equivalent to £30.8bn nationally.
“The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly”
The worst congestion was found in Thailand, where each driver spends 61 hours stuck in traffic jams. It was followed by Colombia, Indonesia and Russia.
Drivers in Los Angeles, the worst city for congestion, spent 104 hours in traffic jams. This was followed by Moscow, New York, San Francisco, Bogota, Sao Paulo and London. Drivers in London spent 73 hours in traffic and the North Circular was named as the city’s most congested road.
According to the research commuters in the capital spent 23% of their travelling time in congestion, but that Exeter was the hardest city to cross in Britain. There, drivers spent 25% of their journeys in congestion and reached an average speed of 4.6mph.
The study said that traffic problems were likely to worsen this year, particularly as the growth of internet shopping had led to an increase in vans on the road. “The challenge moving forward for the UK is dealing with the growth in commercial vehicles in urban centres as e-commerce continues to grow in popularity,” it said.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are making the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s, investing a record £23 billion to keep our country moving and make journeys faster, better and more reliable for everyone.
“As announced in the 2016 autumn statement, we are also spending a further £1.3bn over the course of this parliament to relieve congestion and provide important upgrades to ensure that our roads are fit for the future.”
The most gridlocked countries in the world
- Thailand 61 hours a year
- Colombia 47
- Indonesia 47
- Russia 42
- USA 42
- Venezuela 39
- South Africa 38
- Brazil 37
- Puerto Rico 37
- Turkey 34
- UK 32
The most gridlocked cities in the world
- Los Angeles 104 hours a year
- Moscow 91
- New York 89
- San Francisco 83
- Bogota 80
- Sao Paulo 77
- London 73
- Atlanta 71
- Paris 65
- Miami 65
*Source: Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard
Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
This article first appeared in The Times