Infrastructure: the forgotten need and M5 worst road for traffic jams in 2016

More and more houses, more and more and more cars … tipping point now reached.

“The UK has been confirmed as having more traffic jams than anywhere else in Europe. The Independent Transport Commission has found that the cost of these jams to the UK economy is a staggering £9 billion per year. That’s more than the cost to most European countries combined.

… Looking at vehicles per capita, the UK is 34th in the world. It comes behind France, Sweden, Italy, Luxembourg and Greece, so that doesn’t seem to be the problem. The UK has six million fewer cars than France on its roads. …

Additionally, research by traffic analytics company Inrix shows that, in 2016, drivers encountered 1.35 million traffic jams in the UK. That works out on average to 3,700 traffic jams every day. The estimated annual cost of £9 billion wasted is based on time, fuel spent while idling or starting vehicles in jams and the resultant cost of all that unnecessary pollution.

M5 wins title of “worst traffic jam” in 2016

On 4 August 2016 at the M5 near Somerset, two lorries collided. This created the worst traffic jam of last year, with a 36-mile tailback. It took workers 15 hours to clear the debris. This jam alone was estimated to have cost £2.4 million.

The northbound M6 has three serious traffic jams in the top five worst traffic jams of 2016, while a serious car accident on the A406 was the fourth worst jam of the year.

The causes of the worst queues ranged from fuel spills and emergency repairs to broken down lorries. November was the worst month in terms of the total number of traffic jams. There were 169,000 on the UK’s major roads during that month. April had the second highest number of jams recorded.

UK roads not fit for purpose

Investment has been made to update Britain’s main trunk roads. We are totally reliant on these to get up and down the country. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of traffic on them means that if anything causes the traffic flow to stop at all, there are no alternative road systems nearby for drivers to move across to. Many of the new “smart motorways” being built across the UK are exacerbating the problem because they are built with no hard shoulder in place, just emergency refuge bays provided at maximum intervals of 2,500 metres. …”

[The rest of the article consists of (a) the government saying it is working on the problem and (b) a plea for more roads which hardly seem worth commenting on]