With more than 65 million people trying to get around and nearly 38 million cars on the road, Britain appears to be becoming increasingly congested.
Now the latest annual study of traffic levels around the world reveals the news few drivers will want to hear: Britain’s roads are grinding to a halt.
Motorists spend an average of 31 hours a year – more than a day – stuck in traffic. It is estimated that the delays cost drivers an average of £1168 in extra fuel and lost time. In London, where levels of congestion are higher, that figure rises to £2430 per driver. That’s equivalent to £9.5 billion for the capital.
Things are now so bad that during rush hour in some cities, it would be as quick to walk. Some average speeds are slower than a horse and carriage.
That familiar feeling of waiting for traffic lights to wake up and turn green could be a thing of the past thanks to new intelligent signals.
Currently the majority of lights on Britain’s roads are programmed to change at timed intervals. And with the number of signals growing from 23,000 in 1994 to 33,000 in 2014, it’s estimated traffic lights add two minutes to every car journey made. Incredibly, that’s calculated to cost the nation’s economy £16bn a year, or one per cent of GDP.
So what can be done about traffic lights and hold-ups? Experts say the answer is a new generation of intelligent traffic light.
Aren’t some traffic lights ‘smart’ already?
The daily commute. On top of regular journey times, drivers waste hours in traffic (Picture © Volvo)
Traffic jams across the UK are causing drivers to lose an average of 30 hours a year. Monitoring service Inrix
claims that London is Europe’s most congested city with the average driver squandering 96 hours a year because of traffic jams. Next up was Greater Manchester with 52 hours followed by Merseyside with 37 hours, the data released in August 2015 said.
However, it’s in the Midlands where the biggest increases have been seen, with congestion up by 37 per cent (to 30 hours) in North Staffordshire and 33 per cent (to 28 hours) in Coventry.