Slowest Cities

The world’s slowest cities to travel by car

There’s nothing less fun than sitting stuck in traffic, especially when you’re in a rush with somewhere to be.

It’s been one of the things that none of us have missed in the last 18 months when the roads have been far quieter due to the coronavirus pandemic, but as things start to get back to normal, gridlock is likely to creep back into our lives too.

But where are the slowest cities in the country, where traffic crawls along at a snail’s pace, and how does this look around 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 speeds and congestion levels to find out!

England’s slowest cities

Key Average speed A roads & motorways requiring maintenance Annual average daily traffic flow Average hours lost in congestion
1
London
18 mph
4%
5,498 vehicles
69

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s tried to drive in the capital, but the data backs up the fact that London really is the slowest city in the country.

When we look at the average amount of hours people lose in traffic each year, London is way out in front with 69, which is over double that of any other city in the country, and London’s average traffic speed was also a meagre 18 miles per hour.

2
Derby, East Midlands
23.3 mph
15%
5,553 vehicles
24

The second slowest city in the country was Derby, in the East Midlands, mainly because the city had by far the biggest percentage of A-roads and motorways that have been deemed in need of maintenance (15%).

Poorly maintained roads and constant roadworks are big factors in causing congestion, so the fact that so many are in need of attention can’t be a good sign!

3
Bristol, South West
18.3 mph
8%
4,471 vehicles
37

Bristol was the city where residents lost the second-highest number of hours to traffic jams, with 37, and also had one of the slowest average speeds, at just 18.3, just 0.3 mph quicker than in London.

Like London and many other cities, Bristol is set to introduce a Clean Air Zone next year, which will hopefully see congestion in the city drop.

1
Peterborough
40 mph
1%
4,655 vehicles
5

But not all of the country’s major towns and cities have to put up with such slow conditions. Of the places that we looked at, Peterborough came out as having the best roads to drive on, with not just the highest average speed (40 mph), but also the joint-lowest number of A-roads and motorways requiring maintenance, at just 1%.

2
Darlington
30 mph
2%
3,581 vehicles
14

In second place was Darlington, in the North East, where just 2% of A-roads and motorways were deemed to be requiring maintenance, and the annual traffic flow was 3,581 vehicles a day, which is one of the lowest on our list.

Residents of the town also only lose 14 hours per year in traffic jams, which may still seem to be quite a lot, but is much fewer than in major cities.

3
Bedford
27.2 mph
1%
3,373 vehicles
16

Like Peterborough, Bedford had an incredibly low level of roads requiring maintenance, at just 1%, so in theory, you’re unlikely to run into too many roadworks on the streets here.

The town also had a nice and quiet traffic flow level, so residents don’t have to endure gridlocked conditions too often.

England’s slowest cities ranked

Town/city

Region

Average
speed
(mph)

A-roads &
motorways
requiring
maintenance

Annual
average daily
traffic flow

Average
hours lost in
congestion

Overall
traffic score
/10

The world’s slowest countries

Key Average congestion level Average days with low traffic Highest speed limit Road quality score Numbeo traffic index score
1
Peru
42%
144
100km/h
3.2 out of 7
216.4

The most congested country in the world was Peru, with the capital of Lima being particularly well known for its traffic woes.

The country scored poorly across the board, but particularly when it came to the average congestion level of 42%, which means that a journey here would take 42% longer then it would do with no traffic.

2
Colombia
53%
116
100km/h
3.4 out of 7
198.2

Another South American nation takes second place when it comes to the slowest nations, with Colombia having the joint highest congestion level of all (53% - tied with the Philippines).

As with Peru, this traffic is particularly bad in the capital city, Bogotá, and the country also had a low road quality score of 3.4 out of 7, and a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h (62 mph).

3
Philippines
53%
128
100km/h
3.7 out of 7
192.9

As mentioned, the Philippines are tied with Colombia for the highest congestion score, with drivers spending an average of 53% extra time stuck in traffic.

Factors such as inefficient use of roads, lack of urban planning, and issues with public transport have all been blamed for the issues surrounding congestion in the Philippines.

1
Germany
21.3%
37.8
none
5.3 out of 7
104.8

Given that it’s famously home to the Autobahn, it may be no surprise to see Germany listed as the world’s fastest country for drivers, but it’s just the fact that the country’s motorways technically have no speed limits.

Germany also scores highly for the quality of its roads too, with a score of 5.3 out of 7, and was also among the highest-ranking countries on Numbeo’s traffic index.

2
Netherlands
18.4%
31.1
130km/h
6.4 out of 7
96.8

Germany’s neighbour the Netherlands takes second place, and scored pretty highly across the board, particularly when it came to congestion levels, with journeys taking just 18.4% longer than they would do in free-flow conditions.

3
Austria
21.2%
52
140km/h
6.0 out of 7
79.9

And yet another Western European country completes the top three fastest countries. Austria was the highest-ranking country in Numbeo’s traffic index, and also saw low levels of congestion (21.2%) and had a very respectable road quality score of 6 out of 7.

The world’s slowest countries ranked

Country

Average
congestion
level

Average days
with low
traffic

Highest
speed
limit (km/h)

Road
Quality
score /7

Numbeo
Traffic
Index score

Overall
traffic score
/10

Methodology

England

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 length 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 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard.

Global

Average congestion level

The congestion level according to TomTom’s 2020 Traffic Index. This percentage shows the additional time that a journey would take in each city when compared to free-flow conditions.

Average days with low traffic

The average number of days per year with congestion at least 50% lower than the corresponding day the previous year, according to TomTom’s 2020 Traffic Index.

Highest speed limit

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

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.