The average motorist is being forced to waste £968 and spend 4.9 days stuck in traffic on major roads each year because of congestion, according to new analysis by the Local Government Association.
The LGA says its new report called “A country in a jam: tackling congestion in our towns and cities” reveals the extent of the country’s “congestion crisis” and uses technology solutions as examples of how things can be done better.
It says travel speeds across the country’s local roads continue to decrease, with the average speed on A roads now just 25.2 mph, 1 per cent slower than it was this time last year. Congestion also significantly contributes to excess harmful vehicle emissions – which leads to 40,000 premature deaths annually.
The LGA is warning that congestion is no longer just threatening our environment and the quality of our air, but also becoming a drain on our economy and productivity too. It is forecasting that congestion will cost the economy £300 billion a year by 2030 –a tenfold increase of the current costs of £30.8 billion a year.
Its case studies include Oxfordshire County Council iworking on a range of initiatives to try to pre-empt congestion in their local area by developing smart technology to anticipate flare-ups of traffic, and diverting drivers away from them. One example is the UK Connected Citizens Partnership (CCP) was launched by the council in partnership with Waze, a crowd-sourced, real-time, Sat Nav app. The hope is that by drivers being able to submit hotspots, congestion can be tackled as soon as possible.
Another example from Brighton and Hove says its City Council has made great strides in prioritising buses in their local community including offering real time information for passengers so they know exactly how far away the next bus is, which has also enabled the council to monitor the performance of their public transport.
With traffic forecasted to rise by up to 55 per cent by 2040, council leaders are calling on government to outline a comprehensive congestion strategy to tackle the issue.
The LGA said councils need the same sort of long term funding certainty for local roads maintenance that is enjoyed by Highways England and Network Rail. This is desperately needed to help councils tackle the £12 billion roads repair backlog and congestion they face on local roads.