The Huge Cost of Traffic Congestion

According to a new study carried out by the English Centre of Economics and Business, traffic congestion in the United Kingdom, Germany and France cost each year up to 18,327 billion euros (around $24 billion).

Here is the breakdown by country: United Kingdom : 4.940 billion euros; Germany : 7.830 billion euros; and France : 5.557 billion euros.

In these staggering amounts, both direct (wasted time and gas) and indirect (repercussion on the goods and services prices ) costs are incurred.

Interestingly, the study takes a look at the cities of London, Stuttgart and Paris. These cities lose 1.896 billion euros, 962 million euros and 2.675 billion euros respectively. Yes, Paris and its horrendous traffic congestion pays the biggest toll.

According to the French website Enerzine, the direct costs are huge.

Regarding gas, the loss represents 530 million euros ($720 million) per year, or around 68 euros for each of the 7.8 million French drivers.

In terms of time, the loss is estimated to be around 3.3 billion euros ($4.5 billion), or 430 euros per driver.

Vis à vis indirect costs, 19 percent of total traffic in France concerns goods. Traffic congestion increase the prices of these goods by an estimated 1.7 billion euros, or $2.3 billion. This represents a 147 euros note for each household of the country.

Of course, whether you live in rural or urban areas do not lead to the same costs. Even if an estimated 43 percent of the 11.6 million people living in Paris and its suburbia are going to work by car, Paris still represents 40 percent of the total traffic congestion in France ( whose total population is well above 62 million)

This leads to an absurd loss of time: each worker going by car to work losses an estimated of two work-week.

If you think this is only concerning ol’ Europe, think twice. As Time Magazine notes:

Collectively, Americans spent nearly 500,000 years stuck in traffic in 2007 — nearly 4.2 billion hours. (…) That’s well over double the per-person average of 14 hours in 1982, when the annual survey began. Those in urban areas with more than a million residents have it even worse; they spent an average of 46 hours in traffic.

(…) The cost of traffic congestion hit $87.2 billion in wasted fuel and lost productivity, or $750 per traveler.

All this data shows how – albeit a huge freedom in the countryside and smaller cities – cars can be a burden to large cities. A lot of time, money and gasoline are just wasted day after day all around the world.

Luckily solutions exist. Good public transportation systems enable people to save time and money. Concerning gas, Start-stop systems can enable drivers to cut their gas consumption by around ten percent in cities.

Telecommuting may also be an interesting solution to reduce wasted time, money, gas and so on.

Let’s hope this study will push elected representatives of these countries to seek those alternatives to driving.

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