The true cost of road congestion

Andy Newbound

By: Andy Newbound

Are you paying the price for UK traffic congestion?

The next time you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, you might want to avoid thinking about how much it could be costing you. According to a recent study, the combined cost of congestion on the UK’s roads adds up to more than a staggering £30billion. That’s an average of £968 per driver!

This cost is worked out using a number of factors, including the amount spent on wasted fuels, time wasted stuck on the roads, plus the increased freight and business fees passed on to us all through higher product prices.

The UK is the fourth most congested developed country in the world and we all spend an average of 32 hours each year stuck in peak hour traffic. So what can we do to tackle this issue?

Let’s face it, this is a problem that isn’t going to go away quickly. Despite the uncertainty of Brexit, the UK is growing and that can only mean that we will see more cars on the road; leading to more and more congestion.

As drivers, we have few opportunities to change this. We could look to do more of our driving outside peak hours, or where practical take public transport. Yet this alone won’t solve the issue.

New approach to the daily commute now needed?

Bold and creative solutions will be needed, such as a wider use of communications technology to enable more and more people to work remotely. More than 36% of the UK population still commutes to work by car. Yet with 86% of UK households now connected to the internet, the need to make a twice daily journey to an office just to access technology they could easily use from home is surely an outdated working practice.

The savings we’d all make in fuel, emissions, vehicle maintenance and time could be hugely significant. And with studies regularly showing that remote workers are more productive than their office-bound colleagues, it surely makes commercial sense too.

The government can and must also do its bit. Road charging is being considered to discourage unnecessary travel. Plus smart motorway schemes proved to be such a success when tested on London’s M25 (reducing traffic jams by 52% and delays by 13%) that it’s likely more of these will be rolled out across the UK’s road network.

Cars are such an integral part of our personal and professional lives in the UK and they are here to stay. However, if roads were less congested and unnecessary travel was kept to a minimum, we could all enjoy the time we spend behind the wheel a lot more. We could all make significant savings too.