Poor road design, traffic light management and deliberate attempts to discourage car use by ensuring roads are congested are all to blame, according to fleet managers.
Members of the North West regional meeting of Acfo, the fleet operators’ association, complained that congestion compounded the problem of the rocketing price of fuel, which has now hit £1 a litre (£4.54 a gallon) in many areas.
One fleet operator told the meeting: ‘It never fails to amaze me that you drive down the road and get stuck at red traffic lights, but with proper use of those lights you could halve emissions by keeping traffic moving.
‘The Government goes on about emissions and motorway speed limits, but if it simply put more effort into keeping traffic moving then emissions would be reduced because traffic would not be standing still.’
Another fleet operator said: ‘I call it engineered congestion, such as when a three lane motorway is funnelled into one lane and then straight into a set of traffic lights. That is engineered congestion. Road designers could do a lot more to ease the passage of cars.’
Fleet managers were warned last week to prepare for budget-busting fuel prices as the cost of crude oil looks set to hit record levels (Fleet NewsNet, April 20).
The cost of crude oil has climbed to the levels last seen in the wake of Hurricane Katrina – more than $70 a barrel, with some experts saying $80 will soon be a reality.
Reasons for the hike include concerns about possible military action against Iran and rebel attacks in Nigeria that have shut down a quarter of the country’s oil production.
Mike Waters, head of market analysis for fleet and fuel management firm Arval, said: ‘Implementing target pricing initiatives, better planning of fuel purchases to avoid motorways and, if all else fails, part-filling tanks at expensive forecourts with enough fuel to get to a cost-effective location can all help.’