Page last updated at 01:12 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 02:12 UK

Congestion cut 'due to recession'

Heavy traffic on the M5
Commuters losing their jobs has led to a 15% fall in rush hour congestion

Congestion in the UK has dropped by almost a third in two years because of the recession, according to research.

The report, by the AA and road information company Trafficmaster, shows the first fall in congestion on motorways and trunk roads for 20 years.

It says the drop is due to rising unemployment and more people saving money by working from home.

However, it says, Fridays have seen a rise in congestion with more taking holidays in the UK instead of abroad.

End-of-term traffic and bank holiday traffic have also increased, according to the report, which was based on five years of information gathered by Trafficmaster and an AA/Populus poll of 75,000 drivers.

The AA warns congestion will rise once more as the economy bounces back.

The report found:

  • A quarter of commuters who have lost jobs did so in the last year, contributing to a 15% fall in rush hour congestion
  • 20% of commuters said hard times made them work from home to save on travel costs
  • 14% opted for public transport and 12% shared cars to save money.

Georgina Read, of Trafficmaster, said: "We've been collecting analysing data for the past 20 years, with all previous years showing the congestion problem growing.

"However, post-credit crunch, the trend has been well and truly broken and we've now witnessed two consecutive years of dramatically falling congestion levels."

Congestion vs unemployment

The AA's president Edmund King said: "The report brings both good news and bad news.

"Congestion is falling, but that is due to the recession, fuel prices and unemployment."

Mr King continued: "The motor vehicle is an integral part of British culture we rely on - whether getting to work, taking the kids to school or delivering goods.

"So when times are hard it is with reluctance we look at ways of cutting down on car journeys.

"This only strengthens our need to keep investing in road infrastructure, so when the recession ends we have a network that can support a thriving economy."

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