Traffic congestion worsens in past year

Traffic congestion in cities in the UK has got significantly worse in the past year and is expected to worsen further in the future.

The fourth annual Traffic Index report from satnav manufacturers TomTom shows that average journeys in 2013 took 27 per cent longer than they would in free-flowing traffic, up from 26 per cent longer in 2012.

The past 12 months has seen worsening congestion levels in 10 of Britain’s 17 biggest cities, with Edinburgh, Nottingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester all among the top ten offenders.

London is the UK’s 2nd most congested city

Surprisingly, according to the data, Belfast is the UK’s most congested city, with London coming in second place despite the British capital being the usual touchstone for congestion gripes.

The Traffic Index shows that Belfast has journey times 36 per cent slower than free-flow traffic throughout the day, which peaks at a massive 78 per cent longer in the morning rush hour and 75 per cent in the evening, while London comes in a close second with journey times 34 per cent slower, rising to 63 per cent in the evening peak.

The Scottish capital Edinburgh is close behind, where travelling during the morning rush hour takes 60 per cent longer than usual.

Only two councils were found to have lower congestion levels than last year, Leeds-Bradford and Bristol, The only two local Councils who can congratulate themselves are Leeds-Bradford and Bristol where congestion is down, however despite the slight drop, Bristol is still the fourth worst UK city for congestion, with traffic 32 per cent slower than regular free-flow traffic.

10 working days a year are spent in traffic

British commuters are now spending an average of 10 working days a year stuck in traffic, up from nine days a year ago, while previous reports that some drivers spent up to 36 minutes in an hour in traffic, and that more than a year’s worth of fuel is wasted in a driver’s lifetime whilst stuck in traffic jams.

The report also suggests that drivers who try to avoid the traffic scrum by using rat runs and so-called shortcuts may actually be making their journeys slower, with data showing that local roads have twice as much lost travel time as main roads.

It is estimated that time lost as a result of traffic congestion costs the British economy around £2 billion a year and the situation is set to get worse despite a £28 billion plan for road improvements in the UK. The Government has forecast that four million more drivers will be on UK roads by 2030 and that, by 2040, the volume of traffic will have risen by 40 per cent.

Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom said: “Traffic congestion is nothing new, and continues to be a global challenge and the traditional responses to congestion, such as building new roads or widening existing ones, are no longer proving to be effective.”

The TomTom report analysed over ten trillion pieces of data worldwide to compile its traffic index, which showed that Moscow remains the most congested city in the world with average congestion at 74 per cent, rising to road rage-inducing levels of a staggering 141 per cent in the evening peak, while Istanbul is in second place with 62 per cent and Rio de Janeiro in third at 55 per cent.