How much time do we waste in traffic and how to avoid traffic jams?

How Much Time Do We Waste In Traffic and How To Avoid Traffic Jams

Traffic jams are the bane of most motorists lives. All we want to do when we get into our car is reach our destination as comfortably and quickly as possible. Agreed? Time spent in a car can be enjoyable. Driving along the open road, window down and breeze in your face. But when we’re stuck in a traffic jam our cars can feel like a prison. Not moving anywhere and confined between the doors of your cabin for an undisclosed amount of time isn’t a pleasant thought.

UK roads have been hailed as some of the most gridlocked in the world. I suppose this is to be expected. As a Nation, we are very densely populated and it’s no secret that Brits love cars. But that doesn’t make the ‘traffic jam pill’ any easier to swallow.  So, if you want to reduce your time spent sitting in traffic…. and let’s face it, who doesn’t. Then read on. In this article, we’ll be taking a deeper look into how much time we waste in traffic and how to avoid traffic jams.

How much time do we waste in traffic?

Recent studies show that UK motorists spend the equivalent of 5 days per year stuck in traffic. That’s a long weekend holiday! Or a full working week spent near motionless in our cars. Wow. I can think of hundreds of things I’d rather be doing with my time. I’m certain you can too. The study was conducted by TomTom in 2016 and claims that 11 UK Cities feature on the global list of the 100 most congested areas. China tops the list and the UK is the third most congested Country in Europe.

Depending on where you live in the UK you could spend up to 43% longer in traffic than in other areas. The most congested area in the UK is Belfast where motorists spent up to 200 hours in traffic jams last year. Not surprisingly, other capitals were the next most congested areas. Both Edinburgh and London appeared on the list with a 40% increase in journey time.

Manchester came in at a 38% increase and in the South, Brighton and Bournemouth featured with 36% increase in journey time because of traffic jams.

What is the UK doing to tackle traffic problems?

In a recent interview, a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said “We are making the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s, investing a record £23 billion to keep our country moving and make journeys faster, better and more reliable for everyone. As announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, we are also spending a further £1.3 billion over the course of this Parliament to relieve congestion and provide important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future.”

Good news if the investment is spent wisely. However, the director of motoring research at the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding expressed his concerns. When interviewed Mr Gooding was recorded saying that sustained investment isn’t all we need. The motor industry power house noted that intelligent investment was needed. Planning to minimise disruption during construction and reduce maintenance requirements will provide a more flexible offering for the future.

Are traffic jams avoidable?

Yes, some traffic jams are definitely avoidable. If you know there are ‘hot spots’ of gridlock activity in your local area at certain times. Chances are, you’ll avoid them? Similarly, there are peak times for traffic known as ‘rush hour’. This is typically between the hours of 7:00am and 9:00am / 16:00pm and 19:00pm. The reason why so many more cars are on the road between these times is simply to do with standard work hours. Most offices operate a 9-5 clock in time so when everyone is trying to get to and from work on the roads at the same time we’re bound to be gridlocked.

If you are able to avoid driving during these times then you are one of the lucky ones. Some companies allow flexi-time or would be happy for you to start and finish work a little earlier so you can try to avoid the jams. May be worth asking. For those of us with no choice but to join the droves during peak times. There is hope.

Radio Traffic Alerts

Ever wondered what the T/A button on your car radio is? Let me tell you. It’s a neat little feature which automatically switches your radio station from your favourite hits to the local traffic report. This ensures you never miss an important announcement. Of course, the traffic announcement isn’t an exhaustive snapshot of what’s occurring on the roads but any major incident will be reported.

Sat Nav Traffic Assist

Your Sat Nav is a clever little tool to avoid traffic. If Sat Nav notices you’re approaching a traffic jam on your route it will notify you. But rather than leave you helplessly heading towards congestion with no idea about alternative routes, your Sat Nav provides you with an option to change your route and avoid the tail backs. If you do take Sat Nav up on their offer of an alternate route you should be aware that you may end up driving on the back roads and often the route will be a longer distance.

If you do end up stuck in a traffic jam these top tips can help make it as swift as possible.

Don’t change lane

We’ve all done it. Stuck in a jam with stop start traffic and you become suspicious and paranoid that the lane next to you is moving quicker. The car that was next to you 5 minutes ago is barely even in sight now. So you move over into the other lane. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Now your original lane starts to move and you’re stuck. Well and truly sandwiched in. How frustrating. The moral of the story is to be patient and don’t change lanes to try and get ahead. 9 times out of 10 you won’t be better off for it.

Pre-plan an alternative route

If you aren’t familiar with the area you will be driving and your Sat Nav doesn’t have traffic assist then it would be wise to plan a secondary route. This way if you encounter a spot of congestion you can confidently navigate yourself like a local using an alternative route.

Traffic Apps

Download an app which detects traffic problems. Waze is recommended by a few car blogs to help you avoid traffic jams. Apps like Waze have some very cool features like real time camera feeds to view traffic conditions, or social features to help you connect with other drivers and learn about various routes. Just be sure not to use the app while you’re actually driving.

If all else fails good old public transport could be a favoured solution to your traffic jam woes. Or how about the freedom of two wheels on a push bike? Only kidding, we know you love your car.


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