Provisional estimates show that motor vehicle traffic in Great Britain was at a record high in 2016, with the biggest increase seen in mileage covered by vans.
Published by the DfT today (9 Feb), the provisional figure of 320.5bn vehicle miles travelled was a year-on-year rise of 1.2%.
The figure is also 2% higher than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007 and means that rolling annual traffic levels have now increased for each quarter in succession for more than three years.
In terms of vehicle type, car traffic recorded a year-on-year rise of 0.7% to a record 249.5bn vehicle miles. This is 1.3bn more vehicle miles than the pre-recession peak in 2007.
Van traffic (LGV) continues to rise, increasing by 3.4% year-on-year to a new peak of 48.5 billion vehicle miles, while HGV traffic grew by 2.8% to 17.1bn vehicle miles.
Focusing on road type, traffic on both motorways and rural ‘A’ roads increased to new record levels. Motorway traffic rose by 2.1% to 67.9bn, while rural ‘A’ roads saw a 2.5% year-on-year rise.
Traffic was broadly stable on minor roads, with rural roads experiencing a 0.6% fall to 44.2bn vehicle miles and urban roads experiencing a 0.3% year-on-year fall to 64.6bn.
The RAC says the statistics ‘lay bare just how increasingly congested our roads are becoming’.
Nick Lyes, public affairs spokesman, said: “Motorists, who are paying in excess of £40bn a year in overall motoring taxation, will find it incredibly frustrating that they are having to deal with clogged up roads.
“While the Government has made progress in investing in the strategic road network, motorists will be unforgiving if the same attention isn’t given to local roads. These record figures show there is a lot of catching up to be done if we are going to keep motorists, and the economy moving.”
The road safety charity Brake says the figures should ‘give cause for alarm’.
Gary Rae, Brake’s campaigns director, said: “These rises are not sustainable. The figures are heading the wrong way and we’re heading for gridlock.
"The government needs to get a grip and outline what it intends to do. Back in 2015 we highlighted the lethal consequences of too many vehicles on our roads. The situation is becoming markedly worse”.
Photo: Highways England, via Flickr. Use under Creative Commons.