Traffic congestion in cities across the UK has become “far worse” over the past year, according to research by TomTom.
The latest TomTom Traffic Index for the UK shows average vehicle speeds in 2013 were 27% slower than it says would be ‘normal’ conditions - up from a 26% delay in 2012.
Traffic jams in 10 out of Britain’s 17 biggest cities have got 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.
TomTom says the only local Councils who can congratulate themselves for reducing congestion between 2013 and the previous year’s data are Leeds-Bradford and Bristol.
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%) as main roads (15%).
British commuters in the TomTom data are spending 10 working days a year stuck in traffic, up from nine days a year ago.
This was calculated by measuring the number of hours lost in traffic congestion across the UK, assuming a typical 30 minute commute trip each way, for an entire year. The equivalent of 9 working days lost is the average across all UK cities included in the report.
Belfast remains the most congested city in the UK
The fourth annual TomTom Traffic Index shows that Belfast remains the most congested city in the UK, with journey times 36% slower than ‘free-flow’ traffic throughout the day – peaking at 78% longer in the morning rush hour and 75% in the evening.
Second is London with journey times 34% slower, rising to 63% in the evening peak. Close behind is the Scottish capital Edinburgh, where travelling during the morning rush hour takes 60% longer than usual.
Despite the slight drop, Bristol is still the fourth worst UK city for congestion, with traffic 32% slower than free-flow. Brighton (31%) is in fifth place.
Sheffield (8th place) and Leicester (11th) have recorded the biggest increases in congestion over the past year.
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%, rising to road rage levels of 141% in the evening peak. Istanbul (62%) is in second place, followed by Rio de Janeiro (55%) – and that’s before the World Cup invasion!
TomTom’s European Traffic Index shows London, out of the top 60 European cities, has the third highest growth in congestion in the year from 32% to 34%.
Traffic congestion costing the UK economy £2 billion a year
“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.
TomTom said its Traffic Index is the only global measurement of traffic congestion comparing travel times during non-congested hours with travel times in peak hours experienced by passenger vehicles. The Index takes into account local roads, main roads and motorways, across 180 cities in six continents.
It is estimated that time lost as a result of traffic congestion costs the UK economy £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 four million more drivers on UK roads by 2030 and that, by 2040, the volume of traffic will have risen by 40%.