London amongst the most congested cities in Europe
Only three European countries have worse rush-hour traffic congestion than the UK, according to new figures.
London, Manchester and Liverpool were all among the most congested cities in Europe last year, statistics from traffic information company INRIX showed.
Based on rush-hour commute-to-city travel in 2011, the figures revealed that UK drivers spent 32 hours of the year stuck in traffic, although this was four hours less than in 2010.
Heading the congestion list last year was Belgium where drivers wasted 55 hours in traffic. The Netherlands was the next-worst country for jams, followed by Italy.
The INRIX figures also showed that in the London commuter zone last year, drivers wasted 66 hours in traffic, with the Greater Manchester figure being 45 hours and Liverpool being 39 hours.
The worst time for congestion in London was Friday from 4pm to 5pm, while Greater Manchester's worst time was Tuesday from 9am to 10am, with Liverpool's jams being at their worst between 4pm and 5pm on Wednesdays.
Nationwide, the worst time to be on the roads was in London between 4pm and 5pm, when it took an average of 33% longer to complete a journey than in uncongested conditions.
Overall, a journey along a UK major motorway during peak-time driving hours took, on average, 17% longer than in jam-free conditions.
All 18 UK cities analysed had fewer jams last year than in 2010, with Friday being the worst traffic day and Tuesday being the worst weekday morning.
The best weekday for traffic in the UK last year was Monday, with the worst commuting hour being 9am to 10am on Tuesdays and the best being 7am to 8am on Fridays.
Among UK cities, the biggest decline in hours wasted in traffic last year was in Birmingham, where drivers spent eight hours less in queues than in 2010.
Londoners spent seven hours less, with drivers in Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham and Glasgow all spending five hours less.
For European countries, the biggest drops in congestion between 2010 and 2011 were in Portugal (down 49%), Ireland (down 25%), Spain (down 12%) and Italy (down 12%).
INRIX Europe senior vice president Stuart Marks said: "So goes traffic, so goes the economy.
"Traffic congestion is an excellent economic indicator telling us whether people are going to work, businesses are shipping products and consumers are spending money."
These were the 10 most congested areas in the UK in terms of hours drivers spent stuck in traffic in 2011:
1. London commuter zone 66
2. Greater Manchester 45
3. Liverpool 39
4. Birmingham 34
5= Belfast-Lisburn 33
5= Newcastle upon Tyne 33
7. South Nottinghamshire 32
8. Leeds-Bradford-Harrogate 30
9= Sheffield 29
9= Edinburgh-Lothian 29
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