The Great British Commute

traffic_jamWinter is fast approaching here in England, the clocks have now gone back, it’s darker at night, and at the end of a long day at work so many of us are now faced with a dark and damp commute home, which can sometimes turn into a nightmare experience.

My drive home from work is only 8 1/2 miles, yet last night it took close to 1 1/2 hours to get home.   It was even worse for several people I know in the office who didn’t get home until 8pm and 8:30pm, and that was only a drive of 14 miles.

The problem last night was on the motorway close to work, where a woman fell from a bridge onto the road, plus about 5 or 6 miles further up the road where two trucks collided.   The whole motorway system therefore came to a grinding halt for 10 or more miles around.   

Unfortunately, the city of Southampton is sandwiched between the South Coast of England and the River Itchen, and the motorways run from the southeast, north around the city and off to the west.   So, if the motorways all get snarled up, people come off looking for an alternative route, and that leads them onto the regular roads that are already heavy with traffic for most of the day.   The regular “A” roads around here are more often than not only 1 lane in each direction as well, so it doesn’t take much to cause major holdups where the roads cross others, or where they cross the river.

Since I work to a fixed timetable (the buzzer sounds at 5pm and everyone rushes out at the same time to head home), there isn’t much I can do to avoid the rush hour, and given the location of the office, I don’t have many alternatives as to the route I take to get home.   So, like thousands of others last night, I just sat in traffic and listened to the radio.

Hopefully tonight will be better, but as soon as it gets dark and wet here in England, everything slows right down.  The one big consolation is that I drive an automatic, so I didn’t have to spend 90 minutes with my foot on and off the clutch at least.

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