UK traffic levels rise to all time high

12.00 | 12 February 2016 | | 4 comments

A total of 317.8bn miles were travelled by vehicles on the UK road network during 2015, a year-on-year rise of 2.2% and the highest level ever recorded.

The figures, published in the DfT’s Provisional Road Traffic Estimates, Great Britain: 2015, show that traffic is now 1.1% above the pre-recession peak in 2007.

248.6bn miles were travelled by car. That equates to 78% of the total miles and is a 1.7% increase on 2014. 47.7bn miles were made by LGVs (up 6.1%) while 16.2bn miles were covered by HGVs (up 1.1%).

Longer term trends show LGV traffic is on the rise, while the number miles covered by HGVs continues to decline. Since 2007, LGV traffic has grown by 18.5% while HGV traffic has decreased by 9.7%.

All road classes experienced a rise in traffic levels, apart from urban ‘A’ road traffic which remained at the same level. Traffic levels on motorways (65.8bn miles – up 2.4%) reached a new high.

In line with the increase in traffic levels, there was a decrease in average vehicle speeds and a rise in congestion levels. Average speed on local ‘A’ roads in England during the weekday morning peak was 23.4 mph, a 2.9% year-on-year decrease.

With regard to casualties, DfT figures published earlier this month show that for the 12-month period ending September 2015, there were 1,780 road deaths, an increase of 3% in comparison to the year ending September 2014. In the same period there were 23,700 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties and 188,830 casualties of all severities (both down 3% year-on-year).

Figures to September 2015 also show there were a record 36.5m vehicles licensed for use, a 1.8% increase from the previous year. There are now 2.2m more vehicles licensed for use that in the first quarter of 2007.

Photo: Highways England via Flickr used under Creative Commons


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    No statistically significant change in road casualties is not a good thing when the aim is to see a significant reduction.

    Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire
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    Does this include moles travelled by bicycles, as according to reports they seem in London to be growing in number if not stature!

    Peter City of Westminster
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    Interesting. Probably in keeping with an increasing population and an upturn in the economy. It also highlights the problem of reducing death/injury on the roads against a background of increased vehicle numbers and more miles travelled. There was actually no statistically significant change in deaths/serious injuries for 2015.

    Paul Biggs, Staffordshire
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    Increases or decreases of anything to do with road traffic, indicated by figures as low as 1 – 3%, seem to be too low to be of any significance and could simply be a reflection of the wide tolerances of the methods used to measure these figures. For instance, an apparent recorded decrease in average speeds of roughly 0.5mph on local ‘A’ roads seems to small a difference to be measured accurately and may not necessarily reflect an actual reduction in such speeds and certainly not one that could be regarded as significant.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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