Drivers travelling on the M6 near Preston suffered one of the worst traffic hold-ups across the whole country, experts have revealed.
Research shows that a lorry fire on the northbound carriageway at junction 32 last December was rated the fifth worst in the last 12 months in terms of tailbacks and duration of the motorway closure.
Transport data analyst Inrix, says that the fire, which started in the evening of December 12, resulted in a motorway closure of more than 10 hours and queues of up to 20.4 miles at its worst.
Analysts say that the accident cost the economy around £903,400 if the value of wasted time, fuel and unnecessary carbon emissions as a result of the delay imposed on drivers was considered.
Nobody was injured in the accident which saw a lorry containing paints and aerosols burst into flames at the roadside.
The news comes one week after drivers travelling on the M6 were left reeling by long delays after a multi-vehicle crash at the same junction closed the motorway for several hours.
Dr Graham Cookson, Chief Economist at INRIX said: “While queuing is considered a national pastime for many Brits, nothing is more frustrating than sitting in traffic and our analytics show it’s a costly activity.
"Jams can be caused by all kinds of incidents but our research shows that fuel spillages, emergency repairs and broken down lorries contributed to the biggest pile-ups this year."
A spokesman for Highways England, said: “We care about making journeys safer and better for all who use our motorways and major roads.
“In our first two years we met our target to clear 85% of all incidents on our network within an hour and last year exceeded our target to keep 97% of lanes available to road users, to help smooth the flow of traffic.
"The fire referenced in this research was intense and because it involved exploding aerosols Lancashire fire requested that the southbound carriageway was held until they had the blaze under control.
"It took an hour for the fire service to get the blaze under control and it was finally extinguished at approximately 10.20pm.
"Due to the fire damage and the spilled car wax from the HGVs load it was necessary to dig up and resurface the hard shoulder and 4 of the 5 lanes.
"While the closures were in place and emergency resurfacing was carried out our customers were kept informed with up to date information about conditions on the roads."
The research showed that nationally, November 2016 was the worst month in terms of volume with over 169,000 traffic jams on the UK’s major roads – 50% worse than average.
However, traffic jams across the country in the month of April proved the most severe, with the research revealing they were 24% worse than average.
The year’s worst traffic jam occurred on 4th August 2017 on the M5 Northbound by Junction 10. Traffic tailed back 35 miles at the peak, and the jam lasted 15 hours, resulting in an estimated cost of £2.4 million to road users.