Inrix study reveals the cost of UK’s worst traffic jams over past year


New research from connected car services and transportation analytics company Inrix reveals there were over 1.35 million traffic jams in the past year on the UK’s major roads, costing drivers an estimated £9bn (US$11.9bn).

According to the Inrix research, the causes of the five worst queues ranged from fuel spills to broken down lorries. November 2016 was the worst month in terms of volume with over 169,000 traffic jams on the UK’s major roads (motorways and A-roads), which is 50% worse than average.

However, traffic jams across the month of April proved the most severe, with the research revealing they were 24% worse than average. The year’s worst traffic jam occurred on August 4, 2017, on the M5 Northbound by Junction 10. Traffic tailed back 35 miles (56km) at the peak, and the jam lasted 15 hours, resulting in an estimated cost of £2.4m (US$3.1m) to road users.

For the study, Inrix analyzed the UK’s major roads covering 12% of the 246,500 miles (396,700km) of roads, but more than a 64% of the traffic volume. The UK’s worst traffic jams have been ranked by the Impact Factor, which is the duration multiplied by the length of the queue. Delays caused by scheduled roadworks were excluded. The cost of traffic jams is composed of the value of wasted time, fuel and unnecessary carbon emissions.

Estimates were made based on assumptions about trip purpose and the fuel consumption of the average vehicle, with national averages used as a basis for these values. The ‘average impact’ is calculated by multiplying the average duration of a traffic jam with its average length.

“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,” noted Dr Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix.

“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.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).