We have compiled a list of interesting facts about traffic and traffic jams from various sources. Even though it’s something we are all familiar with – there’s a lot you don’t know…
1. In 2010, a traffic jam on a highway near Beijing kept cars stuck in traffic for more than a week (9-12 days according to different sources). The traffic jam itself went on for 97 kilometres. The locals sold food and water to the drivers for prices that were 10 and more times higher than normal. The congestion was caused by trucks carrying coal to Beijing.
2. Guinness World Records claims that what happened in China wasn’t the longest traffic congestion in history though. An older jam happened in France, spanning from Lyon to Paris, and is regarded as the biggest congestion ever. It stretched for 175 km and took place on February 16, 1980. The reason is told to be poor weather and a huge number of cars on the French Autoroute.
3. The very first traffic lights were a manually operated and gas-lit. They were installed in 1868 outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster (the UK).
4. The European patent office holds more than 5 000 listed inventions relating to traffic lights.
5. In 1928, Charles Adler Jr invented traffic lights that could be activated by drivers honking.
Statistics from Europe
6. Congestion costs Europe about 1% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year.
7. Spending on transport goods and services on average accounts for 13.2% of every household’s budget.
8. Transport is responsible for roughly 25% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Road transport accounts for 71.3% of this amount (2008).
9. In London, Cologne, Amsterdam and Brussels, drivers spend more than 50 hours a year in road traffic congestions. This number is even higher in Utrecht, Manchester and Paris: 70 hours.
10. Cars are the most popular way of passenger transportation across the EU: they represent around 72% of the total passenger kilometers. However, personal vehicles are rarely energy-efficient as according to data from the UK, 60% of cars have only one occupant.
11. The average modern car engine emits 28 times less carbon monoxide than 20 years ago. An average new car today consumes 15% less fuel per 100km than 10 years ago.
12. The EU has more than 4.5 million km of paved roads, 212 500 km of railway lines and 41 000 km of navigable inland waterways.
13. In the period from 200 to 2006, the EU invested a total of €859 billion in its transport infrastructure.
14. Freight transport activity is projected to increase by around 80% by 2050 compared to 2005, while passenger traffic should grow by 51%.
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