How To Prevent Traffic Jams and Save The UK Economy £9bn
While we’re waiting for the ‘Great Electrification’ of our global vehicle fleet – and the smart cities that no doubt will develop as a result, we’re still stuck in traffic jams.
As we discovered in our report earlier this month, drivers in certain UK towns are spending up to 50 minutes just to move four miles in their cars, and in some towns, it can get even worse if there’s an actual problem other than ‘too many road users.’
For some, the solution is fewer cars: user public transport, get a bike, park and ride, walk part of the way… and while these are admirable, it’s not always possible. If you’re a sales rep who has a meeting at 11 in Slough and another at 2pm in Newbury, then relying on the trains is not an option.
So how can we all do our part to reduce congestion on the roads? After all, research shows that we are wasting £9bn by sitting in our cars for longer than we should.
Here’s Fulton’s Quick Guide to how you can help save the UK economy £9bn – and reduce congestion.
Maintain a consistent speed
One of the biggest cause of traffic jams – especially on motorways – is sudden braking. Tailgaters who have to react quickly to a car braking ahead of them cause the person behind to brake, who causes the person behind to break, and so on. That results in a queue of traffic where ultimately, cars have to stop.
That results in a ‘wave’ of traffic flowing backwards down the motorway as the traffic jam concertinas.
By maintaining a consistent speed – and keeping your distance from the car in front – you contribute to a better flow of traffic. What’s more, if anyone does want to jump in aggressively, you’ve left enough space for them to do so without causing a problem further back.
This short video shows how an autonomous vehicle keeps a safe distance, reduces braking, and even saves fuel as a result:
Estimated saving: £5bn
Change your commute times
Our report showed that peak times across the UK are at 8am and 5:30pm. While evenings are frequently problematic for long periods, simply moving your commute time forward 20 to 30 minutes can knock 25% off your journey time. Indeed, if you’re prepared to leave home at 7am, you could avoid some of the congestion completely.
This brings flexible working into focus – if employers are willing to let employees come in early, and leave slightly earlier – then less time would be spent on the roads, and productivity would increase.
Estimated saving: £2bn
There are alternatives available, but Waze is a clever app where users can alert each other to traffic flare-ups. It then calculates the quickest route home – often on roads that other SatNavs would ignore – cutting your journey time.
If your commute goes through city centres, you may already know a few rat-runs, but the ability to foresee problems on the road before you reach them could become a vital way of saving part of that £9bn lost to congestion.
Estimated saving: £1bn
When two lanes merge into one – or three into two – you often find drivers merging too soon. That leaves a whole lane empty, with a tailback in the lane that continues.
Why don’t we merge late? Because we hate people who do that… we shouldn’t, we should embrace them. Become the late merger, and the queue in the continuing lane will reduce, and remember to keep a safe distance for other vehicles to merge so that traffic can keep flowing.
Estimated saving: £700m
Admit it, you’ve done it. But you’ve also been annoyed that everyone else has been slowing down to have a look at an accident, causing a severe delay. It would require a huge collective effort to stop rubbernecking, but the government has been working on a solution: screens.
There is evidence in trials that quickly putting up screens could address the whole issue, and relieve congestion.
Estimated saving: £300m