Call over 'astonishing' cost of congestion as time wasted in traffic revealed


Drivers wasted an average of 31 hours stuck in rush hour traffic last year, new figures show.

The UK was the world's 10th most congested country, costing the typical motorist £1,168, according to traffic information supplier Inrix.

This takes into account direct costs such as wasted fuel and time as well as indirect consequences including higher prices for household goods due to increased freighting fees being passed on to consumers.

Average peak hours spent in congestion - top ten countries
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The city or town with the worst jams was London, followed by Manchester, Birmingham, Luton and Edinburgh.

London is Europe's second most congested location after Moscow, with drivers spending an average of 74 hours in gridlock last year, up one hour on 2016.

The worst stretch of road was the A406 outer London ringroad from Chiswick Roundabout to Hanger Lane during the evening rush hour.

Inrix chief economist Dr Graham Cookson said: "The cost of congestion is astonishing.

"It takes billions out of the economy and impacts businesses and individuals.

Average peak hours spent in congestion - top ten UK cities
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"The average figure for London is £2,430. That's many times more than what it costs me to insure my car and the cost of the fuel I put in it."

Dr Cookson called for innovative approaches to deal with the growing number of cars on the road.

He said: "Increased flexible working or road charges have potential, however transport authorities should be looking to exciting developments in data analytics and artificial intelligence which promise to reinvent our approach to traffic management."

Seven UK locations suffered double-digit rises in the number of hours lost to queues, including Wrexham (up 17%), Mansfield (up 15%) and Bath (up 12%).

Top five congested roads outside London
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Bath has historically suffered from severe traffic problems due to its narrow roads and influx of tourist coaches.

Dr Cookson told the Press Association: "It's a difficult city to fix because of the geography of the place.

"There's a huge congestion problem.

"People are suggesting that public transport improvements like buses don't really work in Bath, they actually make it worse because of the nature of the streets.

"There's a big movement to reintroduce trams.

Three of Scotland's big cities saw major improvements in traffic flow, with congestion down 20% in Aberdeen, 15% in Glasgow and 10% in Edinburgh.

Top five congested roads in London
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This follows the completion of road projects such as improving the M8, M73 and M74 in central Scotland, while a bypass in Aberdeen is almost finished.

"Journeys have got better because of the combination of new roads and the end of roadworks," Dr Cookson said.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "The Government is taking the big decisions for Britain's future, underlined by our record £23 billion for road schemes - the biggest investment in a generation.

"This will help cut congestion, shorten journey times, and boost economic growth.

"We are also giving councils record amounts of capital funding - more than £7.1 billion up to 2021, which will help to upgrade and maintain local roads up and down the country.

"Alongside this, we've announced plans for a new major road network that will give councils access to a multi-billion pound fund to improve or replace the most important A-roads in their area."