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The Road to Nowhere

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					Traffic jams. Along with cold calling, paper-cuts and loud mobile phone users - traffic
jams must feature on most peoples list of pet hates. That's why the revelations in April,
that we spend around 140 million hours stuck in traffic, were an unpleasant slice of
reality. Especially when you consider that this adds up to more than 4 hours worth of
time wasted per driver.

So where is all this congestion coming from? In 2008 the DVLA reported that there
were 34,390,302 licensed vehicles on the road, with over 2 million new cars being
registered each year for the last 15 years.

And it's not just the sheer number of vehicles on our roads that creates the problem.
According to a report by Drive & Survive a massive three-quarters of the UK
population, excluding those who are too young to drive, hold driving licences. With
the split between men and women drivers standing at 56% to 44% respectively.

With the cost of public transport seeming to increase every year, journeys by car are
looking ever more attractive. In fact, the same study also revealed that more than 70%
of all journeys of more than one mile are undertaken by car.

Its England's 2,025 miles of motorway that harbour some of the real congestion
hotspots. This is hardly surprising when you take into account that they make up 1%
of Britain's roads but carry an enormous 15% of all the country's traffic.

When it comes to naming and shaming, the worst offenders were reported to be the
M1 at Barnsley and the M1 from Milton Keynes to Hemel Hempsted but also the
A453 from Kegworth to Nottingham.

The Highway's Agency are quick to defend themselves, stating that 25% of all
congestion is caused by incidents. Drilling deeper into that, Drive & Survive have
unearthed that as many as 60% of accidents on UK motorways are caused by sleeping
or drowsiness.

But how quickly are those incidents dealt with? Reports state that Traffic Officers
across the country deal with over 1,000 incidents a day, with over 70% of those being
proactively spotted (by on-road or CCTV). This means a shorter reaction time by the
Highways Agency thus an increase in safety (as there's less chance of a secondary
accident) and speedier resolution for those drivers caught up in the resulting jam.

All the facts seem to suggest that traffic jams are not a problem that's going to go
away in a hurry. It seems the best course of action for the next time you're caught in a
bank holiday jam is to make sure you've got a good stash of sweets and CDs to keep
you amused.
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posted:1/18/2011
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