The government has told highway chiefs to reduce motorway closure times following accidents after new figures showed that traffic jams on the UK’s major roads cost the economy £9bn a year.
There were more than 1.35 million traffic jams on the UK’s major roads in the past year, but November 2016 was the worst month in terms of volume with over 169,000 traffic jams on the UK’s major roads – 50% worse than average.
The causes of the five worst queues ranged from fuel spills to broken down lorries. The worst having occurred on 4th August 2017 on the M5 Northbound by Junction 10. Traffic tailed back 35 miles at the peak, and the jam lasted 15 hours, resulting in an estimated cost of £2.4 million to road users.
The jams – mostly on roads in England, rather than Scotland or Wales – were calculated to cost £9bn in wasted time, fuel and unnecessary carbon emissions, based on assumptions about drivers commuting to work and fuel prices.
Highway chiefs have reportedly been told by the government to improve the system used in order to shorten the time it takes to clear motorways following accidents and incidents.
Dr Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix, said: “While queuing is considered a national pastime for many Brits, nothing is more frustrating than sitting in traffic and Inrix Roadway Analytics shows it’s a costly activity.
“Jams can be caused by all kinds of incidents but the Inrix Incident Platform shows that fuel spillages, emergency repairs and broken down lorries contributed to the biggest pile-ups this year.
“As we head into November, the worst month for traffic jams last year, we advise motorists use the latest real-time traffic technology to keep up to date with the situation on the roads.”
Mel Clarke, customer service director at Highways England, defended its record. She said: “In our first two years, we met our target to clear 85% of all incidents on our network within an hour and last year exceeded our target to keep 97% of lanes available to road users to help smooth the flow of traffic. We will continue to ensure roads are reopened safely but as quickly as possible.”