Traffic jams cost the UK £6.9bn last year

The UK economy lost £6.9bn because of congestion in 2019, with drivers in London spending an average of 149 hours stuck in traffic

Traffic jam

Traffic jams cost the UK economy £6.9 billion last year, equating to an average of £894 and 115 hours per driver.

Unsurprisingly, London was the UK’s most congested city in 2019. Drivers there each spent an average of 149 hours sitting in traffic throughout the year, accounting for £4.9 billion of the total damage to the economy. The lost revenue is down to wasted fuel, the extra cost of transporting goods through congested areas, and  lost productivity due to workers being sat in jams.

Belfast was the second-most congested UK city, with drivers spending an average of 112 hours in traffic, followed by Bristol (103 hours), Edinburgh (98 hours) and Manchester (92 hours).

Cardiff saw the biggest growth in congestion, increasing 5 per cent to 87 hours per driver. At the other end of the scale, Nottingham’s congestion decreased by 17 per cent.

Impact ranking (UK only)CityAverage hours lost in congestion per driver in 2019Year-on-year changeLast mile travel speedCost of congestion per driver
1London149-9%10mph£1,162
2Belfast112-8%11mph£874
3Bristol103-8%13mph£803
4Edinburgh98-4%10mph£764
5Manchester92-10%14mph£718
6Cardiff875%11mph£679
7Birmingham80-5%16mph£624
8Southampton79-5%13mph£616
9Nottingham78-17%12mph£608
10Hull753%15mph£585

London’s A404/A501, A4 and M25 were the most congested UK roads, losing commuters 44, 40 and 36 hours respectively. Outside of the capital, the A38 in Birmingham caused the biggest delays at 32 hours per driver per year.

The data came from transport analytics firm Inrix, which analysed congestion and transport trends in more than 900 cities across 43 countries. According to Inrix’s impact rank system, London was the eighth-most congested city in the world in 2019, having fallen back from its third-place ranking in 2018. Bogota, Colombia was last year’s most congested city, followed by Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City.

Although a £6.9 billion loss to the UK economy isn’t ideal, it represents a significant improvement over the £7.9 billion loss seen in 2018. London drivers each lost 227 hours in 2018, so the fall to 149 hours is particularly noteworthy.

Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at Inrix, said: “Congestion costs drivers, businesses and the UK economy billions of pounds each year. With the rising price of motoring, consumers are getting hit hardest. With the UK budget due soon, hopefully the Chancellor will take the opportunity to address this issue with continued investments in transport networks.”

How much time do you think you waste a year sitting in traffic? Tell us in the comments below...

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