New research has laid bare the extent of Britain's seemingly intractable congestion problems, with the massive popularity of online shopping one factor thought to be contributing to the frequent gridlock on major UK roads.
According to a study carried out by traffic information firm Inrix, Britain has the third-worst traffic congestion among European countries. The report also found that the average UK driver is spending 32 hours a year stuck in traffic jams at peak periods, with London the most congested city in the country and the seventh in Europe.
To put this into some perspective, in 32 hours you could make two and three-quarter journeys driving between Lands' End and John O'Groats - on a good day it takes about 12 hours each way - assuming you didn't find yourself snarled up in traffic jams along the way, of course. You could also fly between Heathrow and New York about four times.
Manchester was found to be Britain's second-most congested city, with Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh completing the top five. Congestion in Aberdeen at peak times was found to be even worse than in London, with motorists spending 24 per cent of their time gridlocked and travelling at an average speed of 5.5mph.
Central and local government are taking some steps to tackle the problem, however. Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced last November that £1.3bn would be invested in road improvements, with £925m earmarked for schemes to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads. In the same month, London mayor Sadiq Khan also unveiled a raft of measures aimed at lessening traffic congestion, including cheaper public transport and making information more easily accessible to motorists.
Nevertheless, individual motorists and particularly fleet operators can't afford to wait around for these efforts to bear fruit - but they can take steps to alleviate the impact of traffic hold-ups here and now. Telematics systems allow for enhanced route planning and real-time updates on traffic disruption, boosting fuel efficiency - thereby cutting costs - and allowing for significant improvements in customer service.
Speaking to the Telegraph, the AA's Ian Crowder said that online shopping deliveries had added to Britain's congestion problems: "You can't go through a townscape without coming across people delivering groceries or parcels on Amazon or whatever… There's been a phenomenal growth in online shopping sales as well as of light commercial vehicles."
The AA is also advising employers to consider other measures to help ease congestion, such as adopting more flexible working patterns and allowing more employees to work from home.