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Long Road Home - Delays slow Rush Hour to just 15.2 mph

1st February 2012

  • Manchester drivers have the worst daily commute in the UK, averaging one hour fifty five minutes when roads are busy
  • Britons clock up an average of 6,862 miles each year driving to work
  • 29 per cent of commuters who drive say there is no other feasible way of getting to the office

Manchester is the congestion capital of the UK, reveals research from Direct Line1. Its study of workers across major cities found drivers in Manchester experience the most congested commutes, spending an average of 1 hr 55 minutes in their car when traffic is heavy to complete a 25.4 mile round trip to work. This is the equivalent of just 13.3 miles per hour (mph).

Other cities high on the driving rush hour list are Birmingham, where drivers inch their way to the office at a mere 13.7 mph when there are queues and Bradford where commuters often crawl along at an average of 14.2 mph. In comparison, Glasgow drivers experience the least bottlenecks during their daily commute, managing an average of 18.7 mph, even when there are tailbacks.

Across the UK, Britons who drive to work clock up approximately 6,862804 miles each year going back and forth. The average driver travels 29.2 miles every day to get to their workplace, although five per cent commute 100 miles or more on a daily basis.

On a normal day, drivers spend an average of just over an hour (60.6 minutes) travelling to and from the office. However, when routes are heavily jammed and road blocks the daily commute can rise significantly. For Londoners it can rise to as much as 2 hours 28 minutes.

Steve Price, Head of Direct Line car insurance, commented: “The working day is far from nine to five for commuters who drive to the office, particularly when congestion can add almost two hours to daily travelling times. When drivers frequently experience long queues and are worried about being late getting to work, it is easy to get frustrated by the situation. Checking your route before leaving home, pre-warning your boss when you know traffic is bad or having a flexible working agreement in place can all help to reduce the stresses and strains of driving to work.”

Despite the long hours commuters spend in their cars each week, many feel they have no other choice. Almost a third (29 per cent) of drivers say there is no other feasible way of getting to work, 28 per cent say public transport is too inefficient and 18 per cent say it is too costly to use. 

Table one: average commuting MPH per city

City Average communting distance - miles travelled (each way) Average MPH when traffic is congested
London 17.8 14.4
Birmingham 14.0 13.7
Leeds 15.4 15.5
Glasgow 19.4 18.7
Sheffield 13.8 15.3
Bradford 12.5 14.2
Liverpool 12.4 15.2
Edinburgh 12.9 15.4
Manchester 12.7 13.3
Bristol 15.2 16.8

SOURCE: Direct Line

Notes to editors

1 Vision Critical interviewed a random sample of 1,095 drivers working in 10 UK cities aged 18+ via online survey in October 2011 for Direct Line.

For further information please contact

Ewan Robertson
Tel: 020 7638 9571

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides car, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting