Drivers suffer spike in delays on England’s major roads
Motorists suffered a 3.9% increase in delays on England’s motorways and major A roads last year, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
The RAC described the figure as “bad news for drivers” because congestion causes “wasted time and money”.
Journeys on the strategic road network – managed by Government-owned company Highways England – took an average of 9.4 seconds per mile longer than if vehicles were able to drive at the speed limit, according to the DfT.
This is up from 9.0 seconds during the previous year.
The data suggests driving along a 10-mile section of road with a 60mph limit typically took 11 minutes and 34 seconds last year, compared with 10 minutes in free flow conditions.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “More congestion means more wasted time and money, which is clearly bad news for drivers, but it may be a case of short-term pain for longer term gain.
“Much work is being carried out on our motorways to improve capacity by upgrading them to smart motorways, but this inevitably causes delays.
“Nonetheless, extra capacity is badly needed as Britain now has around 38 million vehicles registered for use, and in the 10 years from 2007 more than four million extra vehicles came on to the road.”
The DfT figures show 68.4% of additional time was needed to complete journeys in 2018 compared with driving at the speed limit.
This is an increase of 0.7 percentage points from 2017.
AA president Edmund King said: “Drivers are having to factor in another two-thirds of the expected travel time in case they run into average delays on the strategic road network, and it’s getting worse.
“The key problem is that, with the billions of pounds raised from fuel duty and other motoring taxes, only a third gets re-invested back into the road network.”
Recent analysis by transport data firm Inrix calculated that road congestion cost the UK economy nearly £8 billion in 2018.
Road users in London pay the highest price for traffic jams at an average of up to £1,680.
This was followed by those in Edinburgh (£1,219), Manchester (£1,157) and Leicester (£1,145).
The A406 from Chiswick Roundabout to Hanger Lane, west London, was identified as the UK’s worst traffic corridor, with drivers wasting an average of 61 hours per year.
A DfT spokeswoman said: “This Government is determined to improve journeys for all motorists, which is why we’re investing nearly £29 billion to reduce congestion on our roads up to 2025.
“We are also investing £3.1 billion in local projects to make road travel smoother, while our £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund will develop innovative public transport schemes to further tackle congestion in some of England’s biggest cities.”