Travel: Traffic jam grows into next century

Motorway congestion is getting worse by about 5 per cent annually, and in the past 12 months it grew by 5.1 per cent, according to independent data collected by Trafficmaster.

The worst-affected motorway was the M25, where on an average day almost 480,000 vehicles were delayed - particularly on the recently widened sections between junctions 15 and 16. The next worst-affected areas were the Midlands and the North-east. Since 1993, congestion has grown by almost 20 per cent, leading Trafficmaster, which maintains a network of sensors monitoring the average speed of traffic, to predict that congestion in the early part of the next century will be at the high end of government forecasts. The time lost due to heavy traffic equates to about 38 million man hours, involves 55 million vehicles and costs UK businesses roughly pounds 1.8bn in resources and time.

- Charles Arthur, Science Editor