Traffic Jams Cost an Estimated £9 Billion Last year

A recent study by the transport data company Inrix has shown the number of traffic jams in the UK last year has cost drivers an estimated £9 billion.

It is estimated that there were 1.35 million traffic jams between September 2016 and August 2017 at the cost of approximately £9 billion to road users.[1] This cost is made up of the value of wasted time, fuel and unnecessary carbon emissions that are caused by lengthy queues of traffic. Traffic jams can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are listed below.


  1. Weather

Unfortunately, bad weather is a common occurrence in the UK and it can seem like rain is the most common weather condition, but when the winter months come around, snow and ice can cause even bigger problems to drivers.

When the weather gets particularly bad, it is advisable that drivers keep a safe distance and slow down to an acceptable level to avoid an accident. Drivers often drive cautiously and this can sometimes include coming near to a complete stop, particularly near junctions and when visibility is reduced. If drivers do not drive cautiously in these conditions, it can lead to accidents and lead to further delays on the roads.


  1. Road works

Road works are necessary in order to improve the road surface, repair road defects and they are often carried out in an attempt to reduce congestion long-term. Despite the obvious good intentions behind road works, they can often lead to traffic disruptions up and down the country. This can mean that journeys take an extra 20 or 30 minutes longer to complete. There is often a temporary speed limit of 50 mph on motorways in an attempt to ease congestion through road works. However, this can still cause motorists to come to a halt in the middle of their journey.

In order to avoid any unnecessary stress and setbacks to your journey, you can plan your journey, and adjust your route or travel times accordingly so that you arrive at your destination on time.


  1. Events/peak times

There are certain times of the year when our roads will be busier due to certain events that may be going on, for example, festivals, rallies or concerts. These mean that large crowds can be drawn to certain venues all at once, which undoubtedly causes traffic jams on some of the busiest roads. It may be an idea to plan for these eventualities in advance, so that you do not suffer too much of a delay to your journey.

Other times that you are more likely to experience congestion on the road is at peak times. Travelling at rush hour, in the morning or the evening, can cause delays to your journey, often leading to people being late for work. This is especially the case when driving in and out of cities. To ease the burden of congestion in the morning, it may be an idea to set off early or even use public transport. Being stuck in rush hour traffic can cause road rage in some drivers, but it is important to stay calm in order to avoid accidents.


  1. Spillages or leaks

The worst traffic jam recorded by Inrix between September 2016 and August 2017 was on the 4th of August 2017, where an oil spillage caused a traffic jam which lasted 15 hours.[2] This traffic jam caused disruptions to people 36 miles away.[3] If you’re travelling on the motorway, getting caught in a traffic jam after an oil spillage may be unavoidable. It is important, if you get trapped in a traffic jam, that you listen to traffic updates on the radio to try and determine what has happened and whether any alternative routes are congested. It may be the case that you have to find an alternative way to complete your journey, but you should proceed with caution and attempt to exit the motorway as soon as it is safe to do so.


  1. Breakdowns

There’s no doubt that experiencing a breakdown can be a major inconvenience; disrupting your journey and leading to a lot of unexpected stress. Suffering a breakdown on a motorway or a main road can be extremely dangerous and may also end up causing a traffic jam if your car breaks down in an inconvenient place.

If you are unfortunate enough to breakdown on the motorway, then you should put your vehicle hazard lights on and attempt to get your vehicle to the hard shoulder as soon as you can. Once you have reached the hard shoulder, if it is safe to do so, then you should exit the vehicle through the passenger side and wait behind the barrier.[4]

If your vehicle breaks down on another road, then you should put the hazard lights on in your vehicle and try to move it off the road if possible. Again, you should get out of your car via the passenger door and stay well away from moving traffic. If possible, you should place a warning triangle 50 yards behind your vehicle[5] to warn other drivers.

In the event of a breakdown, you should wear a reflective jacket to increase your visibility to other road users and ensure the vehicle is in a safe place, only then should you call your breakdown cover provider. Breakdowns can cause traffic to mount up behind your vehicle and can cause a disruption to other road users. If you have a suspicion that there is a fault with your car, then you should get it checked out by a mechanic in order to prevent a breakdown from occurring.


  1. Accidents

Unfortunately, accidents do happen and this can cause a major disruption to other road users. Whenever an accident occurs, the drivers involved should exchange details and report the accident to the police. A failure to do this can result in criminal sanctions.

Accidents can often lead to unwanted and unnecessary delays to those involved, and to the following traffic, especially if the accident involves multiple vehicles. Some accidents can lead to serious injury being sustained by any of the parties involved, as such ambulances may be called to the scene. This can cause further disruption and inconvenience to other road users though the safety and well-being of all concerned is quite rightly the top priority.

Accidents that are the fault of someone else may be unavoidable, but you can take steps to avoid causing an accident by following the speed limit, paying attention to other road users and road conditions, and by making time for your journey.

The best way to avoid being caught in a traffic jam is to plan your journey, this involves leaving earlier than usual to factor in other traffic, avoiding main roads during peak times, and looking for alternative routes when possible. Planning in advance may save you fuel, time and money.


If you have been involved in a road traffic accident, then Smith Jones may be able to help you make a claim for compensation. Our expert team can help you claim for any injuries suffered and losses directly related to the accident. This may include any lost earnings, damaged property, travel and medication costs. We understand that accidents can be distressing and so we do our best to make sure the innocent parties get the maximum amount of compensation they are entitled to.

If you have been involved in an accident and need expert advice, you can call the experts at Smith Jones on 0800 195 9590 to see whether you are eligible to make a claim.


[1] Inrix, ‘Inrix Reveals the UK’s Worst Traffic Jams Over the Past Year’ (Published 18th October 2017) <>

[2] Inrix, ‘Inrix Reveals the UK’s Worst Traffic Jams Over the Past Year’ (Published 18th October 2017) <>

[3] BBC News, ‘Traffic jams: UK’s worst motorway disruption revealed’ (Published 18th October 2017) <>

[4] AA, ‘What to do if you Break Down’ (Updated 24th August 2017) <>

[5] AA, ‘What to do if you Break Down’ (Updated 24th August 2017) <>