Motorists put traffic jams at top of hate-list

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The Independent Online

The familiar sinking feeling when heavy traffic grinds to a halt is one of the most pressing problems facing millions of motorists in Britain, according to a new report published today.

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a think-tank, found that annoyance about road delays is as much, or even more, of a worry as pollution, accidents or global warming. Separate research by the Department of Transport into the most congested parts of the road network showed that in some places jams can delay journeys by 24 minutes for every 10 miles driven.

But today's report warned the Government still had a mountain to climb to persuade drivers to back a national system of road pricing to cut traffic levels.

As Britain prepared for the pre-Easter road-rush, the report, based on opinion polls and focus-group research, found more than half of motorists believe the most annoying things about congestion are the unpredictability it causes and the waste of their time.

Motoring organisations said that yesterday was likely to be the busiest day of the Easter holiday on the roads. The Highways Agency has lifted roadworks at 27 major sites over the holiday period, but many roadworks remain in place.

The AA said that 18 million motorists were due to take to the roads over Easter and warned of congestion on the M25, the M1, the M4, and the M6. The RAC said traffic was likely to build up from 1pm today, with the M1 northbound through Hertfordshire one of the most congested routes.

The report's author, Anthony Vigor, said: "The Easter getaway is a prime example of the problems of increased traffic and congestion. Motorists are unable to predict how long their journeys will take. The evidence shows that without action it will only get worse. Road pricing would be an effective way to tackle congestion, but the public are sceptical. If it is to provide a solution, more needs to be done to win the public over."

Ministers are committed to "building a consensus" on road pricing, but the IPPR report warned that many people believed tolls for using roads were unfair.