BRITAIN'S company car drivers spend nearly six million working hours a week stuck in congestion, costing business tens of millions of pounds in the process.
Such is the state of Britain's road network that on average, a company car driver loses a total of two working weeks to congestion every year, a new report has found.
Put together by leasing and fleet management giant LeasePlan, the survey found that the length of time added to company car drivers' journeys each week as a result of congestion now averaged one hour 55 minutes.
Kevin McNally, LeasePlan's managing director, said: 'Our research shows that the UK is one of the most affected countries in Europe when it comes to traffic congestion. While there has been some success in reducing congestion within central London, the rest of the UK continues to suffer.
'With employees now travelling greater distances by car and spending more time caught in congestion, businesses need to be aware of the added pressure this increasing number of hours spent behind the wheel is putting on their employees.'
But Britain's three million company car drivers are not just the victims of congestion. The average driver spends 11 hours a week commuting to and from work, which is contributing significantly to high traffic levels, and is more than two hours a week more than the European average, LeasePlan claims.
Indeed, the pressure on the road network from commuting has been highlighted by figures from the RAC Foundation, which found that 72% of commuters outside London use a car to get to work, with nearly a quarter of all trips made for the purpose of getting to and from work. This equates to an annual distance of 2,906 miles per driver, and 78.5 billion miles of car travel in total.
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, called for businesses to adopt practices that left the car on the driveway, such as working from home, car sharing and better access to public transport, claiming measures such as these could cut congestion by 15% by 2015.
He added: 'Our research shows we are a nation of car commuters.
'We have the longest commute in Europe and even if our commuting time doubled most of us would shrug and leave more time for the journey. Drivers would rather sit in their cars twice as long rather than change jobs, move house or change their work base.'
The Government's reaction to the growing problem is a £7 billion programme of road building, announced earlier in the month (Fleet NewsNet July 17).
The Confederation of British Industry, which threw its support behind the plans, estimates that congestion could cost the economy up to £20 billion a year.