UK traffic congestion “getting worse”

Traffic congestion in cities across the UK has got significantly worse over the past year, according to a new report. The fourth annual Traffic Index from TomTom shows average journeys in 2013 took 27 per cent longer than they would in free-flowing traffic – up from a 26 per cent delay in 2012.

Traffic jams in 10 out of Britain’s 17 biggest cities have become worse over the past 12 months – in London, Brighton, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Belfast and Southampton. Congestion levels have also failed to improve in Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow. The only two local Councils who can congratulate themselves are Leeds-Bradford and Bristol where congestion is down.

The report also suggests that drivers using rat runs may actually be making their journeys slower.  The data shows that local roads have twice as much lost travel time (32 per cent) as main roads (15 per cent). And British commuters are now spending 10 working days a year stuck in traffic, up from nine days a year ago.

Belfast is most congested

The TomTom Traffic Index shows that Belfast remains the most congested city in the UK, with journey times 36 per cent slower than free-flow traffic throughout the day – peaking at 78 per cent longer in the morning rush hour and 75 per cent in the evening.

Second is London with journey times 34 per cent slower, rising to 63 per cent in the evening peak.  Close behind is the Scottish capital Edinburgh, where travelling during the morning rush hour takes 60 per cent longer than usual.

Despite the slight drop, Bristol is still the fourth worst UK city for congestion, with traffic 32 per cent slower than free-flow.  Brighton (31 per cent) is in fifth place. Sheffield (8th place) and Leicester (11th) have recorded the biggest increases in congestion over the past year.

A global problem

Traffic expert TomTom analysed over ten trillion pieces of data worldwide to compile its traffic index, which showed that Moscow remains the most congested city globally with congestion at 74 per cent, rising to road rage levels of 141 per cent in the evening peak.  Istanbul (62 per cent) is in second place, followed by Rio de Janeiro (55 per cent) – and that’s before the World Cup invasion!

“Traffic congestion is nothing new, and continues to be a global challenge,” commented Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom.  “The traditional responses to congestion – such as building new roads or widening existing ones – are no longer proving to be effective. Real time traffic information can help drivers find the quickest shortcut on their journey, and assist governments to make smarter decisions to improve traffic flow for their cities,” he said.

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