Delivery drivers lose on average 16% of their working day to congestion, adding up to 37 working days a year, according to research by Mercedes-Benz Vans.

The research also revealed that congestion is now seen as the second biggest barrier to growth, named by 31% of respondents and 38% of fleet managers, behind only rising fuel costs, cited by 57% of respondents.

The finding comes from Mercedes’ Business Barometer survey of 2,000 UK van owners and operators.

Other commonly cited growth barriers are vehicle expenditure (29%), driver shortages (21%), meeting increasing customer demand (16%) and servicing down time (10%).

Greater London emerged as the most congested city, with 18% of the day lost on average, but the North West saw the highest level of traffic concern, at 43%.

The research also found 55% of respondents plan to increase the numbers of vans they own or operate within the next 12 months, with reasons given for this including growing customer bases (47%) and the continuing growth of online shopping (40%).

Mercedes-Benz Vans UK managing director Steve Bridge said: “Anyone who has travelled along the M6 recently will fully understand the frustrations felt by our hard working van drivers – the amount of roadworks dotted all along the motorway is causing significant congestion issues, not least the stresses it puts time-sensitive couriers and distribution drivers under.

“We know from our Business Barometer that a growing customer base ever more focused on online retail is a positive for the industry, but unless the issue of congestion is tackled, these businesses will suffer. Congestion causes delays that cost money as well as time and can damage the reputation of businesses that rely on their deliveries.

“This is a key issue for the van driving/owning community so we hope the trade associations and government organisations reading this will continue to take note of the opinion and sentiment of van owners and operators and listen to their concern.”