You’ll spend 8 MONTHS of your life stuck in traffic

British drivers stuck in traffic

If you drove to or from work today, the chances are you encountered some traffic along the way. But have you ever stopped to wonder just how long you spend top to toe in tailbacks? ‘Stopped’ being the operative word.

EIGHT MONTHS. You’ll spend eight months of your life stuck in traffic, staring at the rear lights of a compact crossover, wondering if you’ll make it home in time for The One Show

A study of 2,000 motorists found that we spend two months searching for a parking space and the equivalent of one year driving to work. Maybe it’s time to consider working from home.

Overall, you could spend nearly four years behind the wheel, racking up almost 600,000 miles in the process. This is still less than the mileage on the cab that took you home from the pub on Friday night.

A life in cars

UK traffic jam

The study is quite revealing – and a little depressing. While it would be nice to think that time behind the wheel involves picturesque coastal drives, cruising along with the top down and banging tunes on the stereo, the reality is quite different.

Here are some of the figures:

  • Miles driven: 592,920
  • Time spent in car: 3.7 years
  • Time on the motorway: 11 months
  • Time on country lanes: 12.2 months
  • Time in cities: 10.4 months
  • Sitting in traffic: 8 months
  • Finding a parking space: 2 months
  • Driving to work: 12 months
  • Driving around lost: 15 days

Richard Evans, head of technical services at, said: “This research highlights how much of our lives revolve around our cars. Driving almost 600,000 miles is no mean feat and we are tested on a daily basis with congestion, squabbling children, work demands and elusive parking spaces.

“For many of us our cars are a lifeline and we will experience a number of key life moments behind the wheel.”

Cars could be banned from parts of the Lake District

Cars could be banned from parts of the Lake District

Cars could be banned from the Lake District as part of plans to cut congestion in the National Park.

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and National Trust are looking at car-free zones and traffic management schemes, starting with the hamlet of Seathwaite.

Research carried out by National Parks UK in 2014 found that 93 percent of National Park visitors arrived by car. “It is not much fun being on the shores of somewhere such as Windermere on a bike or on foot when the A592 is nose to tail,“ said Julian Glover in the Landscapes Review, published earlier this year.

The LDNPA notes that 50 percent of its carbon budget is made up of emissions from visitors, much of which is from cars.

But cars are a big source of income for National Park authorities. The LDNPA charges up to £500 for an annual permit, and such fees “may be both a deterrent to car use and an incentive to National Parks to tolerate their continuation,” says Glover.

“We need to address traffic issues in the National Park,” said Thomas Burditt, National Trust general manager for the North Lakes. “Car-free zones are an option we are considering. We are in discussions with residents, the Highways Agency and the parish council.”

According to a report in The Times, the National Trust will present research on car-free zones at a summit in Kendal on Tuesday. Residents of Seathwaite would be able to use their vehicles inside the proposed zone.

‘Loved to death’

Tourists Lake District

Kate Willshaw, officer for the Friends of the Lake District, said: “The Lakes are such an amazing place, but parts of it are being loved to death.

“A lot of it is still wild and tranquil, of course. But there are certain areas that are getting congested, such as Bowness, Keswick and Windermere. We call these places honeypots. They attract people because they are an easy win. You can get to them without driving on single-track roads, and the views are magnificent.”

In a 2018 report entitled National Parks for all: Making car-free travel easier, it was found that visitors arriving by public transport spend more than those arriving by car. They are more likely to spend money on food and drink locally and are more likely to pay for tourist attractions.

Many parts of the National Parks are served by the National Cycle Network, and it’s possible to combine cycling and rail travel for shorter trips. 

Cars parked in the Lake District

It’s not clear whether or not the proposed car-free zone in the Lake District will include electric vehicles, but given this is as much about congestion as it is about air quality, they’re unlikely to be exempt from the ban. 

The 2018 report said “greater use of electric vehicles would reduce the carbon emissions from road transport at the point of use although it would not reduce the number of vehicles in the Parks”. It referenced a Renault Twizy hire scheme in the Lake District.

Many locals would welcome a ban. “Congestion is horrendous and getting much worse. There was a fire in one of the houses near us and the fire engine couldn’t get down, there were so many cars parked,” said a local farmer in The Times.

“Right now, today, there are dozens of cars parked from our entrance right down the road. That’s a normal Friday. I would love this to be a car-free zone.”

August bank holiday: the roads to avoid

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

It’s the August bank holiday weekend and that means one thing for Britain’s motorists: traffic. Both the RAC and Green Flag have supplied lists of roads likely to prove troublesome over the bank holiday period.

Here’s the what, when and where of the roads you need to avoid.

Bank holiday mayhem

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

The RAC predicts that there will be some 16.5 million leasure trips by car taken this bank holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, Green Flag, based on data from last year, is estimating that it will receive 138,000 calls for breakdowns over the period between today (Friday 23 August) and Monday (26 August). It’s also predicting that some 77,000 incidents will occur on British roads during this period.

Your best chance of avoiding an incident or indeed a breakdown is steering clear of the most congested roadways at the most congested times. To that end, the RAC has collated its predictions for where it expects the most congestion to be, and when, based on data from analytics specialists INRIX.

Bank Holiday advice

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

Avoid the M25 and the M6 if at all possible. Friday and Saturday are likely to be the busiest, with over 9 million of the expected 16.5 million of this weekend’s leisure journeys expected to take place over today and tomorrow (Saturday)

Use your own knowledge of local roads and relevant traffic reports, as well as the following advice, when planning your journeys.

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

Friday 23 August

When: 11am to 6pm

Where: M25 south east anticlockwise, J4 Bromley to J1 Dartford – 3.15pm

  M6 north J18 Chester to J24 St Helens – 2pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the time’s they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey in the evening.

Saturday 24 August

When: 10.30am to 2pm

Where: M6 north J22 Newton to J26 Liverpool – 3.45pm

  M25 south east anticlockwise, J4 Bromley to J1 Dartford – 1.45pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the times they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey after 4pm.

Sunday 25 August

When: 12.30pm to 2pm

Where: M25 clockwise J7 Gatwick to J16 M40 – 1.30pm

  A303 West Amesbury to A36 – 5pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the times they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey early (before 10.30am) or later on (after 6.30pm).

Monday 26 August

When: 12pm and 2.30pm

Where: M6 south J27 Wigan to J13 Stafford – 2.15pm

  M25 anticlockwise J10 Guildford to J6 East Grinstead – 2.45pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the times they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey early (before 11am) or later on (after 6pm).

bank holiday weekend traffic

“Bank holidays have historically been one of the busiest times for road trips, and this year drivers could even see record-level travel delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX.

“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Highways England to remove 480 miles of roadworks

Highways England to remove 480 miles of roadworks

Highways England is promising to keep 97 percent of its road network free of roadworks during the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

More than 480 miles of roadworks will be lifted or completed on motorways and A-roads, as motorists head home on the last Bank Holiday before Christmas.

“We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible and that’s why we’re keeping 97 percent of the road network we manage free from roadworks,” said Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer services director.

“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”

Highways England has produced a guide to carrying out safety checks on your vehicle, so there’s no excuse for leaving home without giving your car the once over.

The guide covers six key areas: oil, lights, tyre pressures, water, tyre tread and fuel.

‘Breakdowns still too common’

Where your car is most likely to breakdown

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “Breakdowns are still too common. We’d urge motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis.”

Former F1 champion Nigel Mansell is a strong advocate of checking your vehicle before a long trip. He said: “It should be a weekly task for the driver to make sure all lights are working on his or her car, all glass areas are clean, wipers clear the windscreen properly, tyres at least meet legal requirements and water and oil levels are topped up.

At the start of the summer, Highways England said it was expecting to respond to an extra 700 breakdowns a week over the holiday period, taking the average number of motorway breakdowns each week to almost 5,000.

Motorists are warned to expect delays on roads in and around the nation’s tourist hotspots, with the A30 and M5 out of Devon and Cornwall likely to be busy, along with the A303, M25, M6, M40 and M1.

For the latest traffic and travel information, use the AA Traffic News website or tune into your local radio station.

Check your car every week, says Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell says check your vehicle

Former Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell has backed calls to make Friday 19 July ‘check your vehicle day’.

It’s part of Highways England’s ongoing safety campaign around motorway driving, and comes ahead of what the RAC is calling ‘Frantic Friday’.

Millions of extra cars are likely to hit the road this weekend as the nation’s schools break up for the summer and families head to the traditional tourist hotspots. Highways England and Nigel Mansell are urging motorists to carry out some basic checks in advance to avoid breaking down.

‘Getting to your finish line’

Nigel Mansell

The 1992 F1 champion said: “The ‘check your vehicle day’ is a great initiative from Highways England. As someone who raced in Formula 1 for well over a decade, I know a thing or two about good vehicle preparation – and what this means for getting to your finish line.

“Making sure your car is fully ready for the journey ahead could not only save you and your family a lot of heartache on the way to your destination; but ensure that you, your occupants and other road users are as safe as possible.

“It should be a weekly task for the driver to make sure all lights are working on his or her car, all glass areas are clean, wipers clear the windscreen properly, tyres at least meet legal requirements and water and oil levels are topped up.

“I am delighted to give my stamp of approval to Highways England’s call to action and please pay attention to it, as it could save your life and those around you.”

Basic checks to avoid a breakdown

Check your car every week, says Nigel Mansell

Highways England is expecting to respond to an extra 700 breakdowns a week over the six-week school holiday period, increasing the number of motorway breakdowns a week to almost 5,000. Many breakdowns could be avoided by carrying out some basic checks before leaving home. For example:

  • Check the tyre pressures, paying close attention to specific guidelines for a vehicle loaded with passengers and luggage.
  • Check the engine oil using the dipstick, and top up if required. If the vehicle is consuming too much oil, speak to a mechanic in advance of a long journey.
  • Check the coolant to ensure that it sits between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels.
  • Check that the wipers are in good condition and there’s sufficient screenwash in the reservoir.
  • Check all of the lights, including headlights, brake lights, reversing lights and indicators.
  • Check the fuel, refilling close to home is a good idea in case you get stuck in congestion. A distress purchase of fuel on the motorway is likely to be expensive.

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “Breakdowns are still too common. We’d urge motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis and this week is really important because we know that many schools break up for summer and people are setting off on holidays and getaways.”

Motorists told to prepare for ‘Frantic Friday’

Drivers told to prepare for Frantic Friday

Drivers are being warned to prepare for ‘Frantic Friday’ as millions of motorists hit the roads for their summer getaway.

Around 5.3 million extra cars are expected to be on the road this Friday, with the M25 and M1 likely to see the longest delays. Overall, drivers are expected to take 13.4 million separate leisure trips between Friday and the end of the weekend.

That’s the highest number in five years and 4 million more than the same period last year, according to the RAC and transportation analytics firm INRIX.

Drivers on the M1 and M25 are likely to be delayed by 90 minutes and 60 minutes respectively, but congestion is also expected on the M40, M20, M6 and M5 motorways, along with the A30 heading through Devon and into Cornwall.

traffic delays on the M5 near Bristol

Although Friday and Saturday are likely to be the busiest days on the road, some drivers will attempt an early getaway, with Thursday afternoon seeing a spike in traffic from around lunchtime.

‘Frantic Friday’ and the weekend at a glance


Date Leisure trips by car Peak periods Quieter periods  Longest delays
Thursday 18 July 3.7 million 1.45pm to 6.45pm After 8pm M40 south (J14 to J11)

M5 south (J4 to J8)

‘Frantic Friday’ 19 July 5.3 million 11am to 6.45pm After 8pm M1 south (J16 to J6)

M25 anticlockwise (J4 to J11)

Saturday 20 July 5 million 11am to 2pm Before 9.30am or after 4.30pm M20 west (J7 to J3)

A30 west (Pathfinder to Whiddon Down)

Sunday 21 July 3.1 million 1pm to 3pm Before 11am or after 8pm M1 north (J12 to J16)

M25 anticlockwise (J4 to J1)

Monday 22 July 2.8 million 11.30am to 6pm After 7pm M6 north (J5 to J10a)

M25 anticlockwise (J7 to J12)

‘Hours of frustration’

traffic congestion uk

RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “The last thing any family wants is a breakdown spoiling the start of their summer holiday they’ve no doubt been looking forward to for a long time. Traffic jams are pretty much guaranteed from the end of this weekend and while it’s possible to predict where some of these will be, every summer we see extra delays caused by broken-down vehicles blocking lanes, leaving drivers faced with hours of frustration.

“We therefore urge holidaymakers to heed the advice and spend just a few minutes checking the basics like oil, coolant and tyre tread and pressure on their cars before they get packed up. Doing this could make the difference between a smooth and trouble-free journey, and one plagued by the stress and wasted time that comes from being broken-down at the roadside.”

Use the FORCES

Checking car ahead of Frantic Friday

Drivers are being advised to use the FORCES to keep moving over the ‘Frantic Friday’ weekend. FORCES is a six-point checklist drivers can use before setting off for a long journey.

Fuel: don’t risk running out of fuel – refill at the beginning of your journey

Oil: check it’s at the right level to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic

Rubber: tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition

Coolant: this does a vital job in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem

Electrics: your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems

Screenwash: helps keep your windscreen clear

M25 motorway

Traffic alert: Britain’s five busiest road sections revealed

M25 motorway

The government has revealed the five busiest road sections in Great Britain, and it won’t surprise you to discover that four of them are on the M25.

Predictably, the stretch linking junction 14 at Heathrow Airport with the M4 at junction 15 is the most congested, with 219,000 vehicles using the section EVERY DAY in 2018.

Junction 13 at Staines to junction 14 is the next busiest road with 206,000 vehicles, with junction 15 to junction 16 for the M40 motorway next up with 201,000 vehicles.

The section linking junctions 12 and 13 completes the misery for motorists forced to use the M25 on a daily basis, with 193,000 vehicles hitting the short section every day.

Only the M1 between junction 9 for Rebourn and junction 8 for Hemel Hempstead manages to muscle in on the M25’s dominance, with 184,000 vehicles using the stretch of motorway in Hertfordshire.

Commuters on the M25

The figures were taken by an analysis of the Strategic Road Network (SRN), which is made up of motorways and major trunk roads managed by Highways England, or equivalent truck road networks in the devolved administrations.

Amazingly, although the SRN makes up just 2.4 percent of England’s road network, it carried 34 percent of all motorised traffic in England.

Even more amazing – if you enjoy road statistics – is the fact that, at a national level, 85 percent of Britain’s traffic was on England’s roads in 2018. If you need a break, head to Scotland or Wales…

Of the five local authorities in England with the highest levels of traffic, three are in the South East (Hampshire, Kent and Surrey), and the other two are in the East of England region (Essex and Hertfordshire).

Surprise: traffic is DOWN in London

London Congestion Charge

But motor vehicle traffic is up across almost the entire country, with the South West showing the biggest increase since 1993 (39 percent), followed by Scotland and East of England (both up 37 percent).

Only Greater London bucked the trend, with traffic down 4 percent, presumably a symptom of anti-car legislation, expensive parking and the use of public transport.

If you’ve had enough of traffic congestion, we can recommend some terrific roads in Scotland and Wales. Alternatively, check out our list of the quietest A-roads in the country.

May Day mayhem: Motorists braced for cold weather and long delays

traffic congestion uk

Drivers taking to the road over the coming weekend can look forward to congestion and delays, with the RAC predicting the busiest May Day bank holiday since 2016.

Predictably, Friday will be the busiest, with 4.4 million leisure road trips planned – a huge 1.5 million MORE than the same day last year. In total, 13.4 million leisure journeys are expected from Friday to Monday, says the breakdown organisation.

But unlike the Easter weekend, when the country experienced unseasonably warm weather, the nation is braced for a cold snap over the May Day bank holiday, with the RAC encouraging drivers to be prepared for lower temperatures and wintry showers.

‘Motoring mayday’


Motorway traffic jam

RAC Breakdown spokesperson, Rod Dennis, said: “Despite it looking like the weather will take an usually cold turn for the start of May – certainly after the recent Easter heatwave – our figures suggest drivers are still keen to make the most of the long weekend, with significantly more saying they are planning a leisure trip by car this year than in recent years.

“However, there is a risk that drivers will suffer their own ‘motoring mayday’ if they are not careful, since the colder nights we’re about to experience could be enough to cause some older car batteries to finally give up the ghost – seriously disrupting plans for a getaway. Luckily, temperatures will rise during the day and it isn’t due to be a wash-out.

“The advice is again to try to use the roads when they are quieter, which primarily means avoiding Friday afternoon and evening if possible, and setting off earlier on Saturday, especially if travelling any great distance.”

Best times to travel

Traffic-free roads

To avoid delays over the May Day bank holiday weekend, the RAC recommends taking to the road at the following times:

  • Friday 3 May (4.4m leisure trips): before 4pm and after 7pm
  • Saturday 4 May (3.4m leisure trips): before 10am and after 3pm
  • Sunday 5 May (2.5m leisure trips): before 10am and after 3pm
  • Monday 6 May (3.1m leisure trips): before 12pm and after 4pm

To avoid congestion, listen to local radio stations for up-to-date traffic information or use a sat-nav with a traffic setting.

Highways England is lifting roadworks for Easter 2019

roadworks easter 2019

Highways England is working hard to give motorists a Happy Easter by lifting and completing 459 miles of roadworks.

It means that 99 percent of the country’s motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks in time for the Easter weekend. “Egg-cellent”, said a motorist. Probably.

Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer service director, said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Easter and that’s why we’re keeping around 99 per cent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks.

“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”

Research shows that half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided by carrying out some basic checks. These including ensuring you have enough fuel, checking the tyre pressures, checking the oil and water levels, and checking your headlights.

traffic congestion uk

Before you set off, it’s a good idea to check the Traffic England website for live traffic information, as well as tuning into your local radio station. The various traffic accounts on Twitter are another useful resource when you’re on the move.

Holidaymakers travelling to Wales this Easter are in for an early treat, with the Seven Bridge now toll-free for the first time since 1966.

For everybody else, take comfort in the fact that England’s strategic road network will be free of roadworks from 06:00 Thursday 18 April until 12.01 Tuesday 23 April.

The UK’s busiest roads

traffic a30 cornwall

The removal of the roadworks is unlikely to help the motorists who find themselves on any of the country’s most notorious bottlenecks. The traditional tourist routes are likely to be gridlocked as families make their Easter getaway.

Traffic hotspots include the A303 at Stonehenge, A30 and A38 through Devon and Cornwall, M5 from Bristol to Taunton, A55 North Wales Expressway, M55 between Preston and Blackpool and M53 between Liverpool and Chester.

Congestion is also expected on the M1 from Hertfordshire to Leicestershire, the M25 and the M3 and M4 out of London.

The M5 at Bristol

RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the Easter bank holiday falling so late this year we are expecting to see a double wave of getaway traffic – firstly at the end of this week, and then again two weeks later for the four-day weekend.

“We’re hopeful the weather won’t cause drivers too many issues through this coming weekend, but everyone should be ready for some typical short, sharp April showers, with even the possibility of some snow on higher ground in the north.

“This can be a busy time of year for our patrols so we strongly urge motorists to check over their vehicles before they set out. This is particularly important for people driving long distances.

“Spending just a few moments to check oil, coolant, together with tyre tread depth and pressures, can mean the difference between a long but completed journey and one disrupted by an inconvenient, and perhaps preventable, breakdown that ruins the start of a holiday.”



Manchester traffic delays second only to London


Manchester is second only to London for traffic jams. That’s according to a new league table from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

The NIC examined the ease with which commuters could drive from one area to another in peak times versus off-peak times. The areas with the biggest disparity between the two were considered the most congested.

Liverpool and Birmingham follow in third and fourth behind London and Manchester. Unsurprisingly, the top 25 traffic hot-spots on the table are all urban areas. The highest ranked non-“primary urban area”, at number 26, was a combined area spanning Accrington and Rossendale in Lancashire.

Sir John Armitt, NIC Chairman, said the data demonstrates the need for significant investment in the UK’s urban road networks.

Its plan to amend the situation? Put the power (and money) back in the hands of the local leaders – those that have a better understanding of what their constituents need and can develop their own integrated plans to battle traffic.

A small number of cities will benefit from the Commission’s attention. Any lessons will passed on to other areas.


“From Manchester to Bournemouth our cities are facing gridlock – creating misery for people trying to get from A to B,” said Sir John.

“Trying to tackle this from London won’t work. Our metro mayors and city leaders need to be in the driving seat to develop local solutions.”

The NIC is an independent organisation tasked with advising the government on how the country’s infrastructure needs to evolve. The league table was assembled as part of the five-yearly National Infrastructure Assessment, now calling for an extra £43 billion for urban transport improvements by 2040.

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