As any driver will testify, sitting in traffic for long periods is utterly frustrating but new figures show just how much of an impact traffic has on our daily lives.
Churchill car insurance has found that one in 10, of those who drive to work, report being at least 40 minutes late every time they are stuck in traffic.
Workers are changing their routines
The research also reports that, in a bid to avoid traffic, those who commute to work by car are being forced to change their daily routines, and are now working longer hours and moving shifts to dodge the congestion.
Drivers are no longer working the traditional 9-5, with more than half arriving at work before 8.30am, according to Churchill findings; start times at the office are even earlier for an unfortunate one in five motorists who get to work between 5.15am and 7.30am.
As well as starting earlier, drivers are also working later in the hope that the worst of the traffic will have cleared, with one in eight working later purely to avoid traffic.
Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at Confused.com, says: “While it’s of little surprise to learn that motorists are altering their working patterns to stay away from the peak traffic congestion times, it’s shocking that so many of us are having to go to such lengths to minimise the impact on our daily lives”.
Its findings show that more than – with the economy losing an estimated £752 million a year from the gridlock.
Wasted working hours
Britain’s road problems are not only having an impact on individual drivers – but also on the economy as a whole.
Churchill also found that 123 million working hours are lost each year as motorists sit gridlocked in their vehicles during their daily commute.
“As many drivers have to accommodate the school run and other commitments in the mornings, it’s simply unrealistic to leave home at the crack of dawn,” says Tony Chilcott from Churchill. “The result is millions of working hours wasted in traffic jams each year.”
What are the alternatives?
To avoid traffic, some employees should ensure they explore all of their options.
Find out if you can commute to work via public transport instead, such as a bus, tube, train or tram – or boat.
Think about whether you could cycle to work, and see if your employer offers a Cycle To Work scheme.
Introduced in 1999, this Government scheme allows employers to help staff buy cycles and safety equipment by making it a tax-free benefit, so it's all a lot easier on the pocket; if you live in London, why not make use of the capital’s bicycle superhighways on one of the “Boris bikes.”
What changes are planned?
The Government announced several transport projects in the recent Autumn Statement, but not all commuters are convinced.
“Despite some welcome announcements on limiting rail fare hikes, the Government has gone for some big road projects which will simply move traffic jams a few miles,” says spokesman Stephen Joseph, from The Campaign for Better Transport.
“What’s really needed is tackling the backlog on local road maintenance and smaller transport projects that make the best use of what we have.”
The group is calling on the Government to take “serious measures” to reduce the volume of traffic by deterring car use and improving alternatives – including making public transport “truly affordable.”
New rules on roadworks
Separate findings from insurer More Than show that over the course of a year, motorists spend an extra 70 hours driving to work due to roadworks, with Londoners hardest hit – spending up to 83 hours stuck in traffic.
Once again, these delays are forcing workers to change their routines, with10 per cent leaving their homes an hour earlier than necessary to allow for delays caused by road repairs.
There are plans to charge utility companies “lane rentals” to ease congestion; under the plans, which could come into effect in 2012, companies could be forced to pay hefty sums if they carry out works on busy streets at peak times.
Further, Transport for London has improved online reporting tools for offending firms, so anyone who sees disruptive or neglected roadworks, or sites that are inadequately signed, can now name those responsible on a new website.