GRIDLOCK in urban areas is costing car-commuting households £4.4 billion a year, according to a report.

Congestion in London accounts for £2bn of the overall annual cost, the report by traffic information company Inrix and the Centre for Economics and Business Research showed.

The report was compiled by studying congestion in the UK's 18 largest urban areas. It was found that the average British driver spent 40 hours a year stuck in jams, with the average for London drivers 80 hours.

The overall cost was made up from the direct cost of fuel wasted (£441 million), commuter time wasted in traffic (£2.79bn) and the indirect cost to household bills (£1.19bn).

The bills figure was compiled from higher freight and business fees as a result of company vehicles being stuck in traffic, with the additional costs being passed on to households.

As well as London, the urban areas in the study included Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford-Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff and Coventry.

Inrix European director Matt Simmons said: "These findings expose the significant economic impact gridlock is having on the UK economy.

"Congestion is reducing productivity, leaving commuters with higher bills and less time, as well as damaging the environment.

"By making sense of traffic intelligence on vehicle movement, bottlenecks and congestion, Britain can address the challenges facing its road network."

The other areas in the study included Kingston-upon-Hull, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester.