Growing economy driving congestion up in UK | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

Growing economy driving congestion up in UK

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The UK is the fifth most congested country in Europe, according to a Traffic Scorecard Report published by INRIX.

UK drivers wasted an average of 30 hours in congestion during 2014. Belgium is Europe’s most congested country, where drivers spent 51 hours stuck in gridlock in 2014.

The UK economy grew by 2.8% last year, its highest rise since 2006 and faster than any other major developed country and double the European Union average of 1.4%. Levels of unemployment also decreased in 2014 by 21% from 2013. These factors, which are driving up consumer spending as well as spurring roadwork and construction projects nationwide, had a big impact on traffic with an increase of private and commercial vehicles on the road and more people commuting to work by car.

Traffic congestion was up in 14 of the 18 UK metropolitan areas in 2014, compared to nine in 18 in 2013. The biggest increases in congestion were seen in North Staffordshire (+37%) and Greater Coventry (+33%) where drivers sat idle in traffic for 26 and 28 hours respectively. Rising congestion levels in the Coventry area were the result of extensive, long-term roadwork schemes such as Tollbar Island.

Population growth and urbanisation are key drivers of congestion, and the UK’s population grew by 491,100 last year, reaching a record high. London’s population also experienced high growth in 2014, increasing by 122,100 people. This contributed to drivers in the capital spending 96 hours on average stuck in traffic, 14 hours more than in 2013, resulting in London becoming Europe’s most congested city.

“For the third year running, traffic in the UK is up,” said Bryan Mistele, president and CEO, INRIX. “The strong growth of the UK economy and rise in urban populations have resulted in an increase in the demand for road travel, significantly driving levels of congestion up across the country.”

INRIX is a leading provider of traffic information and driver services.

UK’s ten most congested metropolitan areas in 2014 (ranked by annual hours wasted):

 

Rank UK Metropolitan Area Hours Wasted in 2014 Change from 2013 (in hours)
1 London commute zone 96 14
2 Gr. Manchester 52 6
3 Merseyside 37 -1
4 Gr. Belfast 37 6
5 Gr. Birmingham 37 3
6 S. Nottinghamshire 35 -4
7 Avon & Somerset 30 6
8 Leeds-Bradford 29 4
9 Coventry & Warwickshire 28 7
10 N. Staffordshire 26 7
 
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