Research reveals that the average motorist driving through London’s notorious rush hour spends around 139 hours a year at a standstill due to gridlocked traffic. In fact, London ranks as the most congested city in Europe, due to a combination of motorists driving to work in the City and others passing through to reach a destination on the other side.
What time is rush hour?
There is no official time for rush hour and it goes on for much longer than one hour. Traffic starts building up from around 6.30am in the morning but it’s busiest between 7.30am and 9.30am, after which it starts tailing off again. The early evening rush hour starts at around 4pm and continues until 6.30pm. Generally, it is busiest between 5pm and 5.30pm.
Research was carried out to compile Inrix’s Traffic Scorecard Report, a study of congestion hotspots across the globe. Some areas of London are worse than others, with a 10-mile stretch of the A217 identified as the most gridlocked road in the city, while a stretch of the A215 from Shirley Road in Croydon to Albany Road in Camberwell comes a close second.
For people living in suburban locations, a smaller-scale rush hour for school runs is inevitable and the afternoon gridlock begins at about 3pm, in some cases going straight into the main rush hour at about 4pm.
Can you avoid rush hour?
There’s no way to avoid rush hour other than setting off for work ridiculously early or working until late into the evening. If you’re on flexi-time, it may be possible to adjust your hours to avoid peak traffic times.
If you’re not a commuter and you don’t need to drive during rush hour, then don’t! If you’re going to the airport to catch a flight or if you’re collecting or returning one of our hired vans, don’t travel at peak times and you’ll avoid the gridlock.
Unfortunately, for most of us rush hour is a necessary evil. However, keep your cool and keep your wits about you, so you don’t arrive at your destination feeling anxious.
Keep your cool
Don’t get flustered and practice breathing exercises to keep calm. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold your breath for around 10 seconds and then exhale equally slowly through your mouth.
Lower the wear and tear on your vehicle by maintaining a constant speed where possible. Instead of stopping and starting, with sudden bursts of speed and emergency stops, drive smoothly and be aware of what gear you’re in.
Always be aware of what’s happening further up the road to anticipate changes in the traffic’s speed and to avoid any problems that may be imminent. Don’t be lulled into a hypnotic state – caused by the brake lights of the car immediately in front of you.
If you are on the ball, you will be better able to anticipate the demands of the road ahead. If you see stationary traffic ahead, you’ll be able to take your foot off the accelerator and glide gently to a halt.
Although you can’t avoid rush hour, there are ways to ensure it doesn’t have such a detrimental impact on your wellbeing.