British Motorists’ Average Two Days a Year in Traffic Jams
By Andy Bannister
How much of your life do you spend in your car queuing in stationary traffic? For the average British motorist it is more than two days each year, according to Kia Motors, which has published a ‘cleaner driving’ report.
Kia is using the rather startling statistic to encourage new car buyers to use the greener Intelligent Stop and Go (ISG) technology it has started to offer in Europe. With manual transmission, this allows the car engine to switch off when the vehicle is stopped, in neutral, with the clutch released.
Known by Kia as EcoDynamics, this feature is now available on some versions of its Slovakian-built and recently-facelifted Cee’d model, a Ford Focus and VW Golf competitor offered as three-door and five-door hatchbacks and an estate car.
It’s certainly true that driving to and from work is not generally the most pleasant way to start and end the day on the crowded island of Great Britain. According to the Kia survey, daily jams and queues blight 71% of the UK workforce who make the journey to work by car, with the average commuter spending 47 minutes on their journey, 12 minutes of which is spent either crawling below 5 mph or totally stationary.
Overall Kia found that 49.5 hours were spent in stand-still traffic each year, which amounts to 91 days of their working life.
Perhaps surprisingly, the huge conurbation of London isn’t the worst affected. There, commuters do have fairly good alternative transport choices together with big deterrents such as the city’s notorious daily congestion charge, which encourages people to leave their cars at home.
It’s actually commuters living in and around Manchester, in England’s north-west, who are worst off of all, with a section of a main road called the A566 being singled out as the most dire in the entire country. The 50,000 drivers who use the four-mile stretch of road each day collectively waste half-a-million hours sitting in queues every year.
Despite these statistics, the fact that 44% of British motorists are regularly late for work, Kia found few people are ready to forego their cars. Some 30% of drivers rule out public transport due to inconvenience, while almost three-quarters (72%) said they value the privacy and space that their journey to work affords, even if it mainly consists of crawling forward at snail’s pace.
In models like the latest Kia Cee’d EcoDynamics, the environmental impact of stop-start driving in heavy traffic is significantly reduced, with fuel consumption and emissions both improved. The system is designed to restart the 1.6-litre diesel engine once the clutch is depressed, meaning it is accomplished in the time it takes the driver to select first gear.
Leaving aside its stupid name, the Cee’d is another decent Korean car which deserves to be taken seriously, and the company is right up there with more established players in jumping on the green bandwagon.
Citroën, BMW, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes, BMW, Mitsubishi, Audi and VW are among the other companies already offering this feature on selected models, usually at a hefty price premium, but it is a fair bet it will gradually become standardised on many new cars in Europe over the next couple of years.
The technology itself isn’t new – makes like Fiat experimented with it more than 25 years ago on cars like its Strada hatchback. At the time, though, Fiat’s reputation was such that drivers of the model had a niggling doubt every time the engine cut out in traffic that it wouldn’t start again.
It can be a strangely unsettling experience the first few times it happens, but hopefully the drivers of 2009 shouldn’t have too much to worry about, at least while the cars are in their first flush of youth.
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