Cost of traffic to UK business approaches £1bn

London, 12 December 2017
The cost of traffic congestion to UK business has risen by almost £150 million in the past year, according to research conducted by TomTom.

Latest figures revealed as part of the TomTom Traffic Index reveal congestion is costing UK businesses approximately £915 million a year in lost productivity, up from £767 million in last year’s study.

Traffic across the UK’s 25 most congested cities and towns increases the time each vehicle spends on the road by an average of 129 hours a year (up from 127), which means an average commercial vehicle driver wastes more than 16 working days while sat in traffic.1 This translates to an approximate loss of £915,239,5202 for businesses across the country.3

To compound the situation, traffic has been getting continuously worse since 2010, with an average journey now taking 30%4 longer than it would in free-flowing conditions, up from 25%.

Traffic remains a serious issue for business and the resulting delays have potential implications for productivity, customer service standards and even employee wellbeing, said Beverley Wise, Director UK & Ireland for TomTom Telematics. Unfortunately, congestion levels continue to rise and the UK economy is paying the price for this at a time when the landscape is already challenging enough, with the growth rate now expected to be just 1.5% this year.5

But, although solutions to the wider traffic problem are incredibly complex, businesses can take action now to mitigate its effect by using data to develop smarter working schedules and shift patterns that help employees avoid driving at peak times. Technology such as telematics can help in the move towards a more dynamic model of routing and scheduling that uses data on traffic and journey times to develop plans that minimise time on the road and can be quickly adapted in reaction to delays or changing circumstances.

The biggest financial hit was felt in London, where £264 million is lost to traffic each year, followed by Manchester (£169,256,880) and the Birmingham area, including Wolverhampton (£144,184,320).

Overall ranking of most congested cities in UK, according to TomTom Traffic Index:

Rank (previous year)CityAverage congestion (previous year)Delay per vehicle per year in hours (previous year)Working days lost per vehicle per yearNo of commercial vehiclesCost of congestion
1 (1)Belfast43% (40%)200 (195)259,900£14,256,000
2 (4)Edinburgh40% (37%)165 (158)2113,000£15,444,000
3 (2)London40% (38%)152 (149)19241,700£264,516,480
4 (3)Manchester38% (37%)169 (169)21139,100£169,256,880
5 (5)Brighton and Hove36% (34%)135 (129)1710,900£10,594,800
6 (7)Bournemouth36% (32%)140 (135)179,200£9,273,600
7 (10)Sheffield35% (30%)137 (129)1724,100£23,772,240
8 (6)Hull35% (33%)152 (152)1914,600£15,978,240
9 (9)Bristol34% (31%)148 (138)1850,900£54,239,040
10 (8)Newcastle & Sunderland32% (31%)130 (129)1642,800£40,060,800
11 (11)Leicester32% (29%)140 (137)1717,100£17,236,800
12 (12)Liverpool30% (29%) 111 (110)1412,600£10,069,920
13 (13)Swansea29 % (28%)113 (114)1419,200£15,621,120
14 (17)Glasgow29% (26%)129 (122)1624,500£22,755,600
15 (18)Cardiff27% (26%)119 (115)1512,600£10,795,680
16 (16)Nottingham27% (27%)120 (119)1510,600£9,158,400
17 (14)Birmingham & Wolverhampton26% (27%)112 (120)14178,800£144,184,320
18 (15)Leeds-Bradford26% (27%)118 (125)1568,600£58,282,560
19 (22)Portsmouth25% (23%)102 (97)1317,000£12,484,800
20 (20)Southampton25% (24%)117 (117)1412,300£10,361,520
21 (21)Reading24% (24%)118 (120)156,300£5,352,480
22 (19)Coventry23% (25%)116 (122)1421,400£17,873,280
23 (24)Stoke-on-Trent22% (20%)110 (104)1416,500£13,068,000
24 (23)Middlesbrough22% (21%)90 (89)114,500£2,916,000
25 (25)Preston20% (19%)90 (82)117,200£4,665,600
1 Based on an average working day of 7.82 hours. According to the ONS the mean average number of total paid hours per week for full-time employees in the UK was 39.1 in the year to April 2017. 2 This figure was calculated as follows:
UK average of 129 hours lost in traffic x £7.20 (National Minimum Wage, 2015 for workers 21 and over according to UK government statistics) x 985,400 light goods and heavy goods vehicles operating in the 25 cities identified by the TomTom Traffic Index as the UK’s most congested (according to vehicle licensing stats from the DVLA) = £915,239,520. 3 According to vehicle licencing stats from the DVLA/DfT, by the end of 2016 there were 985,400 light goods vehicles registered for use on the roads in the 25 cities and towns identified by the TomTom Traffic Index as the UK’s most congested in 2016. 4 An overall congestion level of 30% means that an average trip takes 30% longer than it would under uncongested conditions, for example at night. 5

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