Watch this video about a race across London to get you thinking about the issue of traffic congestion.
Traffic facts and figures
What it costs
America's families spend more than 19 cents out of every dollar earned on transportation, an expense second only to housing, and greater than food and health care combined.
The individual cost of congestion exceeded $900 per driver in 1997, resulting in more than $72 billion in lost wages and wasted fuel.
Congestion results in 5.7 billion person-hours of delay annually in the United States.
Drivers in one-third of U.S. cities spend more than 40 hours a year (an entire work week) in traffic that is not moving.
Safety and health concerns
In 2003 there were more than 6.3 million motor vehicle crashes reported to police. Of those, 38,252 crashes resulted in fatalities.
In 2001, crashes were the leading cause of death for people ages 4-33 in the United States.
For every passenger-mile traveled, public transportation is twice as fuel-efficient as private automobiles, sport utility vehicles and light trucks. (Source: Centre for Transportation Excellence)
If one in 10 Americans regularly used mass transit, U.S. reliance on foreign oil could decline by more than 40 percent, or nearly the amount of oil imported from Saudi Arabia each year.
A regular rush-hour driver wastes an average of 99 gallons of gasoline a year due to traffic.
On-road vehicles are responsible for 44 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, one-third of all nitrogen oxide emissions and one-quarter of all volatile organic compound emissions.
- The following are all problems caused by traffic in urban areas. Explain what each problem is and provide a supporting factoid e.g.: ‘In London, 90% of air pollution comes from road traffic. One in seven school children in Britain has asthma, but children being driven to school are thought to add 20% to the number of cars on the roads during rush hours.’
BBC News - Rising death toll of traffic pollution [1 September 2000]
BBC News - Costs of congestion set to double [16 September 2008]
The speed of travel
The Independent - London drivers spend 227 hours each year in traffic [12 February 2019]
BBC News - 'Most dangerous' roads revealed [24 June 2007]
Under use of public transport
BBC News - Public transport 'poorly linked' [27 August 2007]
BBC News - Workplace parking levy: Will you have to pay to park at work? [10 October 2019]
Fieldwork skill: Traffic Counts: Set up a system so that you (and your partner) can record the number and types of traffic seen in the clip above.