In London and the south of England peak hours now extend from 6.00am to 11.00am and then 3.00pm to around 8.00pm.
A report from live traffic information service provider Trafficmaster estimates drivers will waste a record 1.4 million working days this year in traffic jams, compared to about 975,000 lost working days in 1997 – the year Labour came to power.
The biggest increase in congestion is the M62-M621 interchange near Leeds, where gridlock has increased by almost 250% in the past five years. Patches of the M6 in the North West and the M1 in the East Midlands have seen jams soar by around 150% while congestion on the M25 near London has risen by 95% in parts.
However, the M25 between junctions 10 and 21 has the worst congestion in the country.
The gridlock news has coincided with a call from the Highways Agency for fleet executives to educate their drivers on the Highway Code as the Agency launches an initiative to keep motorists moving on a stretch of one of Britain's busiest motorways. A senior executive with the organisation claims many drivers are unaware of the meaning of road signs and that such ignorance can add to the UK's growing problem of congestion and, more importantly, cause accidents.
Highways Agency project sponsor Phil Barnett said: 'Ensuring drivers are up to date with the Highway Code will save lives. Not only theirs and other motorists' lives but also the lives of roadside workers maintaining and improving carriageways.
'Fleet executives have a real duty to ensure their drivers are up to date with the Highway Code and know what road signs mean.'
Barnett made his comments as he promoted the launch of the Highways Agency's innovative CCTV camera project on the M4 elevated section near Chiswick. The scheme is designed to feed the emergency services with live images of the state of traffic flow and improve their incident response times.
Pictures beamed to police control centres will provide vital information to the emergency services to help vehicles respond more quickly to incidents and to allow the police to deal with traffic flow problems at source and to ease congestion.
Acting on this information, the police will flash messages on to variable message signs so drivers can 'make informed journey decisions' and plan whether to use that stretch of road or make a detour.
The camera network also gives police a better chance of spotting drivers who persistently ignore sign warnings and contribute to accidents or congestion, police sources say.
Barnett added: 'This is an important project for the Highways Agency. It highlights how we work in partnership with the emergency services and how we are building communication links between road users and those services responding to our needs.
'The results of having cameras on this section means that we can anticipate problems, respond to incidents and as a result clear the road more quickly. All the benefits from this project will be passed on to motorists, who can get to their destinations more quickly.'
Other similar schemes will be set up on Britain's road networks in a bid to keep the network as congestion-free as possible.