Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Lost in gridlock... the 31 hours of your life you'll never get back

Motorists stuck in traffic in Belfast city centre
Motorists stuck in traffic in Belfast city centre

Northern Ireland's beleaguered motorists are spending almost one-and-a-half days a year stuck in traffic.

That's according to new research which has ranked Belfast as the sixth most congested city in the UK.

But it also emerged that the number of hours drivers in greater Belfast spent in traffic jams fell by almost eight hours in 2012.

The findings come from in-car data company INRIX, which supplies real-time traffic information to car sat-nav companies.

Northern Ireland's capital fell five places behind London, where motorists last year lost 72 hours of their lives in gridlock.

Drilling down into the report's details, INRIX said the Belfast ring road (A55) featured most heavily for traffic jams.

It highlighted five other sections in order of congestion: Lagan Valley Park-Balmoral Avenue; Castlereagh-Belvoir Road; Newtownards Road-Castlereagh; Monagh Bypass-Springfield Road; Andersonstown Road-Glen Road.

Meanwhile, the traffic information website also identified the busiest motorway section as being on the M1, from Lisburn to Blacks Road. Outside the immediate Belfast area, the busiest section is A3 Magheralin to Dollingstown (westbound towards Lurgan).

Bryan Mistele, INRIX's chief executive officer, said there has always been strong correlation between the state of the economy and the level of traffic congestion on our roads.

"It tells us if people are employed and driving to work, going out to eat or doing some shopping, as well as whether or not businesses are shipping products," he said.

"Considering unemployment hit record highs in 2012 and European household wealth dropped 13.6% to $10.9trn (£7.13trn), it is hardly surprising that traffic levels have dropped significantly."

All of the 18 UK cities analysed showed a decline in traffic congestion in 2012 because cash-strapped motorists hit with rising fuel prices have cut their driving.

The report said: "Even in London traffic levels continues to drop, with congestion down 9% year-on-year. In Belfast traffic dropped 20% and the city moved down the UK rankings from fourth to sixth place."

London (72 hours) is followed by Greater Manchester (45 hours), Merseyside (37), South Nottinghamshire (36), Greater Birmingham (32), Belfast (31), Edinburgh (28) and South Yorkshire (27).

The average time spent in gridlock across the UK is 29 hours. However, this is seven hours less than in 2011 – a drop of 19%.

INRIX identifies 6-10am and 3-7pm as peak times for the purpose of calculating delay index. Within that 8-9am and 5-6pm are probably the busiest hours.

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