Most congested cities: Driving at the wrong time of day could TRIPLE your journey time

A study of roads across 13 cities reveals the shocking amount of time commuters waste on the road


We can reveal the full impact congestion has on drivers’ commuting times for the first time in an investigation carried out on UK roads.

Drivers are losing an average of 10 days a year sitting in their cars during rush hour with journey times tripling on some routes.

We compared the travel time of various routes into the centres of 13 major cities for a 9am arrival on a Monday, one of the busiest times to be driving, with 9am on a Sunday, when the roads are at their quietest. A central landmark in each city was given as the destination.

The figures reveal the full picture of congestion across the country, uncovering the shocking amount of hours drivers lose as they make their way to work. And this can mean more than just inconvenience – more bumps occur during rush hour than at any other time of day.

Worst city for congestion

Unsurprisingly, London is the worst city for congestion, with commuters spending three times as much time in the car during rush hour, compared with the quieter day. That adds up to an average of 53 minutes more in the car for just one journey, which is a staggering 398 hours each year, or 17 days.

Manchester is the second most congested city in the UK – where drivers will spend an average of 45 extra minutes per journey in rush hour, compared to the same journey outside of peak times. This adds up to 335 hours, the equivalent of nearly 14 days every year.

Bristol comes third in the list, followed by Glasgow and Birmingham. Leeds is the city where congestion affects drivers the least – adding an average of 28 minutes on a journey but still doubling the time it takes for drivers to get to their destination.

Congestion – where does your city rank?

When comparing specific journeys into cities, people travelling from Dartford to Trafalgar Square in London on a Monday morning face the biggest journey hike. Those making the 19-mile trip could be sitting in their cars for up to 130 minutes, adding an extra 90 minutes on a single journey. This is a whopping 28 days over the course of a working year.

Third on the list, and the first route outside London, is the drive from Chepstow in Wales to Cabot Circus – a shopping centre in Bristol and a 17-mile trip. This twenty-minute journey could be three times longer on a Monday morning at peak time – taking 60 minutes instead of 20.

Most congested routes across the UK

  Route % increase in driving time during rush hour
1 Dartford to Trafalgar Square, London 225%
2 Romford to Trafalgar Square, London 214%
3 Chepstow to Cabot Circus, Bristol 200%
4 Halton to St George's Hall, Liverpool 192%
5 Washington to the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle 192%

Newcastle is the city with the route least affected by congestion. Travel from Hexham to the Tyne Bridge in the city will only be increased by 20 minutes or 57% if you drive during peak time. Least congested routes across the UK:

  Route % increase in driving time during rush hour
1 Hexham to the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle 57%
2 Loughborough to Nottingham Castle, Nottingham 67%
3 Chester to St George's Hall, Liverpool 71%
4 Ilkley to Victoria Leeds Shopping Centre, Leeds 86%
5 York to Victoria Leeds Shopping Centre, Leeds 50,511

Jo Cox, Motor Product Manager at Admiral said: “These figures confirm what motorists have long suspected – that they spend a huge amount of wasted time sitting in their cars. You are more likely to be involved in an accident where you bump the car in front during rush hour than at any time of the day. These rear end bumps are the most common type too.

“Planning your journey and leaving plenty of time is key if you want to avoid being late or put undue pressure on yourself. That will make your drive safer and less fraught.

“The figures do bring home the potential time that could be saved if you travel outside of peak times too. If at all possible, consider starting your journey and working day earlier or later. It could mean your time is spent a lot more productively.

“Drivers also need to assess the roads just prior to setting off. What are the latest traffic alerts and do you need to amend your journey to avoid a jam?

“If there is no avoiding the traffic hotspots, a relaxing playlist or audio book can help you while away the time as you wait to get to your destination.”

We can reveal when you might want to stay off the road to avoid an accident in your nearest city. Check out Rush Hour Mayhem  

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