Slowest Cities

Which cities are the slowest to drive in?

Getting stuck in traffic is incredibly tedious and frustrating if you are trying to get somewhere in a hurry. Traffic is caused by many factors, just a few of the more common reasons are the weather, road conditions, roadworks, and accidents. However, all of these don’t compare to the biggest contributor or all, which is just the sheet number of vehicles on the rod, especially during rush hour, as many people drive to and from work.

There are some parts of the country and the world where you can’t escape traffic congestion, as opposed to other places where you’re likely to sail through without issue. But where are the slowest cities in the country, and how does English traffic compare to the rest of the world?

The car finance experts at Moneybarn have compared some of the biggest cities in England, as well as various countries around the world on factors such as average traffic speed and congestion levels to find out.

England’s slowest towns & cities



Overall slow traffic score

Bristol is England’s slowest city, with the southwestern city being named the best city to live in Britain as recently as 2017, however it is not so great if you want to drive somewhere in a hurry! Bristol scored poorly in every ranking category and it was this consistently slow performance that earned them the number one spot. The average annual hours lost in traffic was 91, and 10% of its ‘B’ and ‘C’ roads require maintenance, as well as 9% of the ‘A’ roads and motorways.



Overall slow traffic score

The second slowest city in England is Nottingham. The East Midlands city is an epicentre of evil in Robin Hood mythology, but in reality, it is the traffic that is truly terrifying. A massive 10% of all ‘A’ roads and motorways in the city require maintenance, which is the highest of any cities in the study. On top of this, the average speed of traffic in the city is just 14 miles per hour (mph), with only motorists in Brighton achieving a lower average speed.



Overall slow traffic score

Liverpool is the city with the third worst traffic in England, making it the slowest city in the north. Although Liverpool’s ‘A’ roads and motorways are in fairly good nick, it has the worst ‘B’ and ‘C’ roads of any major city in the country, as an astonishing 15% of them should be considered for maintenance. Additionally, the average delay in Liverpool is over 83 seconds per vehicle per mile (spvpm) and there is an average daily traffic flow of over 1,250 vehicles.



Overall slow traffic score

The fastest town in England is Middlesbrough, which has a reputation as a tough working-class town, growing around the largely defunct coal, steel and ship mining industries that dominated the coastal North East of England. While most of the shipyards have gone, thankfully for Teesiders, so has the traffic. Middlesbrough has the third shortest average delay time, as well as the second lowest average hours lost in congestion.



Overall slow traffic score

Around 15 miles west of Middlesbrough is the market town of Darlington, another large settlement in the North East. Historically, Darlington is more famous for its railways than its roads, as it was the site of the world's first steam-powered passenger railway when the Stockton and Darlington line opened in 1825. However, in 2023 it is the speed of the town's roads that are impressive, as there is an average delay of under 30 spvpm, and an average speed of almost 30 mph.



Overall slow traffic score

The third fastest town or city is Peterborough, situated in Eastern England, Peterborough is the fastest area with city status (although its population is almost identical to Middlesbrough’s). Known for its Gothic cathedral and Trent University, Peterborough has the smallest average delay in traffic, as drivers only lose around 22 spvpm, over 40 seconds fewer than the nationwide city average.

England’s slowest towns & cities ranked

Key: Average speed (mph) Average delay (spvpm) A-roads & motorways requiring maintenance B & C Roads that should be considered for maintenance Annual average daily traffic flow Average annual hours lost in congestion Overall slow traffic score /10



The world’s slowest countries



Overall slow traffic score

The South American country of Peru is a beautiful wonder full of spectacular mountains, vibrant cities and ancient ruins of the Inca empire. However, their roads are not so spectacular, and it ranked as the worst country of those studied. Its Numbeo traffic score was over 220, one of only two countries scoring over 200, there are also 26 days of high traffic in their cities and the average congestion level is 42%.



Overall slow traffic score

Romania is home to the Transfăgărășan highway, a 56-mile stretch of mountain road which is considered ‘the best road in the world’ by television presenter and motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson. Unfortunately, this road does not reflect the country as a whole, as Romania is the second slowest country studied. There is an average congestion level of 50%, which is the highest in the study. Moreover, there are only nine days a year with low traffic, and the road quality score is just 3/10.



Overall slow traffic score

The third slowest country is Israel. The Middle Eastern nation narrowly edged out Mexico to secure the infamy of a podium position. One of the reasons Israel ranked so highly is the 17 days of high congestion and the 40% average congestion level. The road quality score was also just 4.9, but cutting across the country would not be advised, as certain disputed areas of Israel are littered with unexploded land mines.

United States


Overall slow traffic score

At the other end of the spectrum is the USA, which ranked as the fastest country for car travel and traffic. Although those living or commuting in central Los Angeles or New York would not agree with this, the United States as a whole is a good country for traffic. There is an average of just six days per year of high traffic, and there is a high top speed limit in urban areas of 50mph.

United Arab Emirates


Overall slow traffic score

The UAE is a nation known as a haven for petrolheads, and it backs this up by ranking as the second fastest country in the world. As it is an oil-rich nation, the price of petrol is very cheap in the country and many wealthy members of the population own high-performance supercars. The top speed limit in the UAE is just shy of 100 mph, meaning cars can be legally driven faster in no other country except Germany. The UAE also has a high road quality score of 6/7.



Overall slow traffic score

Incredibly, Malaysia has 0 days of high traffic, and a monumental 164 days of low traffic, with these factors contributing to Malaysia being the third fastest country in the world. The Asian country also scored highly for its road quality score and average congestion levels but was let down by a low maximum speed limit of 68 mph.

The world’s slowest countries ranked

Key: Average congestion level Average days with high traffic Average days with low traffic Highest speed limit in towns (mph) Highest speed limit (mph) Road quality score /7 Numbeo traffic index score Overall slow traffic score /10



For both England and the rest of the world, we looked at a number of factors relating to congestion on the roads, giving each place a normalised score out of ten for each factor, before taking an average of all of these scores to create our final traffic score.


Average speed

The average speed on local A-roads in miles per hour, according to the Department for Transport’s average speed, delay and reliability of travel times data.

A-roads & motorways requiring maintenance

The percentage of A-roads and motorways where maintenance should be considered, according to the Department for Transport’s road condition statistics data tables.

Annual average daily traffic flow

The average motor vehicle flow according to the Department for Transport’s road traffic statistics.

This refers to the number of vehicles passing an average point in a 24-hour period, to show the number of vehicles in an area while taking into account the different lengths of roads in different places.

Average hours lost in congestion

The average annual hours lost in peak commute periods compare to free-flow conditions per person according to INRIX’s 2022 Global Traffic Scorecard.


Average congestion level

The congestion level according to TomTom’s 2021 Traffic Index. This percentage shows the additional time that a journey would take in each city when compared to free-flow conditions. For each country we took an average score of all their cities.

Average days with low traffic

is the average number of days per year with congestion at least 50% lower than the corresponding day the previous year, according to TomTom’s 2021 Traffic Index. Whereas, high traffic is days with congestion 50% higher than that day the previous year.

Highest speed limit

The highest permitted speed limit in the country in kilometres per hour, according to Wikipedia’s speed limits by country page, we then converted this to miles per hour.

Road quality score

The quality of road infrastructure score out of seven according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

Numbeo traffic index score

A score taking into account time consumed in traffic, time consumption dissatisfaction, CO2 consumption in traffic and overall inefficiencies in the traffic system, according to Numbeo, with a lower score being better.