THREE Scots cities saw improvements in traffic flow last year although the UK was still found to be the world’s 10th most congested country.

Overall, British drivers wasted an average of 31 hours stuck in rush hour traffic in 2017, data from traffic information supplier Inrix shows, costing the typical motorist £1,168.

This takes into account direct costs such as wasted fuel and time, as well as indirect consequences including higher prices for household goods due to increased freighting fees being passed on to consumers.

The city or town with the worst jams was London, followed by Manchester, Birmingham, Luton and Edinburgh.

But the Scots Capital also saw improvement, as research found congestion was down 20 per cent in Aberdeen, 15 per cent in Glasgow and 10 per cent in Edinburgh.

This follows the completion of road projects such as improving the M8, M73 and M74 in central Scotland, while a bypass in Aberdeen is almost finished.

Inrix chief economist, Dr Graham Cookson, said: "The cost of congestion is astonishing.

"It takes billions out of the economy and impacts businesses and individuals.”

In relation to the Scottish data, Dr Cookson added: “Journeys have got better because of the combination of new roads and the end of roadworks.”

He called for innovative approaches to deal with the growing number of cars on the road, saying: "Increased flexible working or road charges have potential, however transport authorities should be looking to exciting developments in data analytics and artificial intelligence which promise to reinvent our approach to traffic management.”

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said tackling congestion “is one of our top priorities”.

She said: “To reduce congestion we need to get more people to choose pubic transport as the better option – for themselves, for the city and for those who need to move quickly and easily on our roads.

“Between our buses and trams we have some of the most highly regarded public transport providers in the country. We are working closely with Lothian Buses, Edinburgh Trams and other partners to reduce congestion in the city, improve and expand the public transport network and make movement around, and in and out of, the city a positive experience.”

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s policy and research director, said the figures served to confirm “the problems that many drivers encounter as they struggle to get on with their daily lives”.

He added: “It’s no surprise that Edinburgh remains near the top of the table for delays as it is a victim of its own success in attracting economic activity, but has historically failed to create new road capacity within the city.

“The reason for improvements in traffic flow in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh are far from clear. Major schemes outside the city are unlikely to have had a huge impact on city centre trips and in the case of Aberdeen the by-pass is not even finished yet.

“What is clear is that continued investment is needed to continue to create viable and attractive alternatives to the car.

“Public transport is potentially proving more attractive for those accessing city centres, but it needs to serve better the huge variety of trips around and across our urban areas if we are ever to bring these figures down. Walking and cycling trend to get top billing as alternatives but the congestion busting potential of motorcycling should not be ignored.”

Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf said he was “pleased to see improvements in traffic flow across our major cities.”

He said: “We are currently committed to the largest road investment programme that Scotland has ever seen, which includes the £1.4bn Queensferry Crossing, the £3bn dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025, the £745m Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project and the £439m M8/M73/M74 Motorway Improvements Project…”

He added: “Work is continuing with our industry partners to build the best railway Scotland has ever had as part of our on-going efforts to encourage more people out of their cars and onto public transport…We have also committed to introducing low emission zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020, so that are towns and cities can benefit from further improvements in traffic congestion and air quality.”

* The Herald amended the headline to this artcile at 12.27pm on February 6 to better reflect improvements to congestion across Scotland