March 7, 2017

Counting the cost of congestion for UK plc

Tips for companies on how to mitigate congestion costs

Traffic congestion cost UK drivers £30.8bn last year in direct and indirect costs as the bill for disruption and lost productivity due to our increasingly congested roads network became more apparent.

A new report, the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, revealed that the UK is the third most congested country in Europe, behind Russia and Turkey, while London is the second most congested European city, behind Moscow, but ahead of Paris and Istanbul.

On a global scale, the UK is the eleventh most congested country in the world, in a league table topped by Thailand, Columbia, and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, our capital is the seventh most congested city globally with drivers in London spending an average of 73 hours in gridlock during peak hours last year. When getting in and out of London at peak hours, drivers achieved an average congested speed of just 14.6 mph and spent 15% of their time in congestion.

This contributed to congestion costing London  the equivalent of £1,911 per driver and the capital as a whole some £6.2bn in direct and indirect costs for 2016.

Direct costs relate to the value of fuel and time wasted, and indirect costs relate to freighting and business fees from company vehicles idling in traffic, which are passed on to household bills through higher prices.

What about our other cities?

Manchester, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh, with London, made up the UK’s five most congested cities.

Drivers in Manchester spent 39 hours in congestion during peak hours, and 10% of their total drive time in gridlock, costing each driver the equivalent of £1,136 and the city some £233 million.

Drivers in Birmingham, meanwhile, spent 9% of their total drive time in congestion last year, costing the city £407 million.

Major cities in Scotland also featured prominently in the UK league table, with Aberdeen and Edinburgh placed third and fifth respectively. The combined cost to both cities in 2016 was £363 million.

Guildford, Luton, Bournemouth, Hull and Bristol were also included in the nation’s top ten worst congestion spots.

Congestion costs money

Report authors, INRIX, said the cost of congestion to the country was staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting on businesses and costing consumers dearly.

To tackle the problem, the company said both Government and companies needed to consider bold options such as remote working, wider use of road user charging and investment in big data to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems.

How can congestion be avoided?

Not all congestion can be avoided due to the way our working lives and office hours are structured, right throughout the country. However, there are a number of measures companies could consider to try and mitigate some of the costs.

Home or flexible working

To avoid the traditional rush hour, more companies could consider allowing their employees to work from home, at least for a number of days per week. Another option is to introduce more flexible working hours so that the traditional 9.00am to 5.00pm working day is not slavishly enforced, thus helping reduce congestion at peak times.

Video conferencing

Is the face-to-face business meeting absolutely necessary? Or could greater use be made of the latest technologies such as video conferencing, Skype or other software solutions? Not only is congestion reduced, but the corporate carbon footprint is as well.

Car sharing

More companies are starting to consider car sharing options and trying to avoid having too many company cars or too many journeys with just one person in them. A number of suppliers offering car sharing facilities have sprung up around the country.

Car clubs

As a development of the car sharing concept, car clubs have also appeared in major conurbations. CLM has been working with one car club in particular to provide ad hoc, short term vehicles to corporate customers. Such businesses may have a vehicle need for one department, such as finance, in the morning, and for another, such as marketing, in the afternoon.

The costs of hiring the vehicle can then be allocated between the two departments, allowing the very accurate allocation of costs.

Car clubs have proved useful for providing short-term vehicles to local authorities to meet departmental needs without the councils having the hassle of managing a pool car fleet.


For companies that use telematics widely across their fleets, especially delivery or service fleets, the latest technology can be used to identify and predict ad hoc congestion in real time, alerting drivers digitally and suggesting alternative routes.

Also, by analysing fleet data over longer periods of time, routes which routinely result in vehicles becoming slowed down for prolonged periods can be identified and avoided, thus helping firms run more efficiently both in terms of time and also fuel spend.

If you would like to find out more about tips for avoiding congestion, then please get in touch.