New figures released today (19 May) show that a total of 316.7bn miles were travelled by vehicles on the UK road network during 2015, a year-on-year rise of 1.6% and the highest level ever recorded.
The increase, highlighted in the DfT’s ‘Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2015 Summary’, is however slightly lower than was predicted in initial estimates released in February.
The provisional estimates suggested a figure of 317.8bn miles in 2015, 1.1% above the pre recession peak in 2007.
However, the revised figures released today show the increase at 0.8% above that peak, which still represents a new record.
Car traffic has also risen to a record high of 247.7 billion vehicle miles, a 1.1% year-on-year increase. Car traffic now accounts for 78% of all distance covered.
Miles travelled by LGVs increased more year-on-year than any other vehicle type (up 4.2% to 46.6bn miles) while HGV traffic saw its largest year-on-year increase since the 1980s (up 3.7% to 16.7bn).
In terms of road type, motorways and rural roads saw record traffic level in 2015. Motorway traffic rose 2.6% to 66.5bn miles, while rural roads, which remain the most used, rose 2.4% to 91.3bn.
Long term trends show that since 1995, road traffic has grown by 18.6%. The RAC says this rise, coupled with the overall length of UK roads only increasing by 2.4%, is a concern.
Nick Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: “While traffic has only increased very slightly on the previous year it has taken us to record levels, but the longer term picture is more concerning with overall traffic since 1995 growing by 18.6% in stark contrast to the overall length of our roads which has only increased by 2.4%.
“Having a road network that is fit for purpose, in terms of being able to cope with increased traffic as well as being maintained to an acceptable level, is vital for a prosperous economy. There is little doubt that the Government’s Road Investment Strategy recognises the importance of this, but these figures show there is a lot of catching up that must be done.”