Traffic across all vehicle types and road classes increased in Q3 2014 (July-Sept) compared with Q3 2013, and motorway traffic rose to an all-time high, according to DfT stats published last week (13 Nov).
Motor vehicle traffic in Great Britain in Q3 2014 increased to 77.9 billion vehicle miles, a rise of 2/2% when compared to the same quarter in 2013. This is the highest quarterly total recorded since 2008.
With GDP also increasing during Q3 2014, the DfT suggests “economic growth is contributing to the continued upward trend in traffic volumes”.
While car and HGV traffic levels increased by 1.4% and 2.2% respectively, light goods vehicle traffic increased by 6.9% – and continues to rise at a higher rate than any other vehicle type.
Traffic on motorways in Great Britain increased by 2.3% to 16.3 billion, and has increased by more than 47% over a 20-year period since 1994.
Commenting on the figures, professor Stephen Glaister from the RAC Foundation said: "Whoever predicted that the link between economic growth and traffic volume was broken will have to have a rethink. GDP is up and mileage is up, just as the DfT has always anticipated.
"These figures beg questions about what rising mileage means for congestion, emissions and particularly road safety.
"Last week we learned there has been a marked rise in road casualties after years of reduction. We urgently need a strategy on how we are going to preserve and improve on our generally good safety record against a backdrop of a rising population and increasing traffic."
Edmund King, AA president, added: "The rise and rise of white van man shows we have become a service society with more people expecting and demanding next-day delivery of goods bought online. It is estimated that up to three quarters of Christmas shoppers will buy most of their presents online.”