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West Midlands roads are among the most congested in the UK

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West Midlands roads are among the most congested in the UK, according to a new study on Europe's traffic hotspots.

The UK has the third worst traffic congestion country in Europe, a study has found.

Drivers are spending an average of 32 hours a year stuck in jams during peak periods in the UK, according to traffic information company Inrix.

Researchers calculated that the direct and indirect costs of hold-ups reached £31 billion last year, at an average of £968 per driver.

Congestion is the most severe in London, which was found to be the seventh worst city out of more than 1,000 analysed around the world.

But the report says roads around Birmingham and the wider Midlands are the third most congested in England after the capital and Manchester.

Inrix chief economist Graham Cookson said: "Despite Brexit, 2016 saw the UK economy remaining stable, fuel prices staying low and employment growing to an 11-year high, all of which incentivises road travel and helped increase congestion.

"The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly.

"To tackle this problem, we must consider bold options such as remote working, wider use of road user charging and investment in big data to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems."

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Aberdeen eclipsed London for congestion at peak periods last year as the hardest city to get into or out of in the UK, with drivers stuck in gridlock 24% of the time, moving at an average speed of 5.5mph.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "Road congestion is a high price to pay for having a successful economy, and the risk is that gridlock starts to strangle growth.

"That is why we don't just need sustained investment, to add capacity and install better traffic management systems, we need intelligent investment planned to minimise disruption during construction, minimise maintenance requirements, and provide more flexibility for the future."

AA president Edmund King said: "Employers could help ease the situation by introducing flexible working hours or home-based employment and we also need to improve the efficiency of white van deliveries as light vans are the fastest area of traffic growth."

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Russia is the most congested country in Europe, followed by Turkey and the UK.

Recent Department for Transport (DfT) figures show there was a record 320.5 billion vehicle miles travelled in 2016, up 1.2% on the previous year.

A DfT spokesman said: " We are making the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s, investing a record £23 billion to keep our country moving and make journeys faster, better and more reliable for everyone.

"As announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, we are also spending a further £1.3 billion over the course of this Parliament to relieve congestion and provide important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future."

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