Traffic levels in Britain rose by 1.4% in the last year to a new record high, led by increases of more than 3% in mileage by vans and lorries.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has published its provisional road traffic estimates for Great Britain for the year ending September 2016.
Although the vast majority of the 320 billion vehicle miles were by car (249.4 billion), after a rise of 0.9%, higher increases in vehicle miles by vans (3.8%) and lorries (3.4%) meant that these vehicle types made a similar sized contribution to the overall increase.
DfT officials said the overall traffic level represents a record level, 1.8% higher than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.
James MacColl, head of campaigns at Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘Growth in population and jobs does not need to mean growth in traffic, especially given what we now know about the country’s lethal and illegal levels of air pollution.
‘Instead, we need action from Government to invest in better public transport, walking and cycling routes, locate new homes near public transport, and get more freight traffic off our roads and onto rail. That will give people real choice in how they travel, and liberate communities from the damaging effects of ever growing traffic levels.’
Traffic levels on motorways and rural roads are at all-time highs while traffic on urban roads remains below 2007 levels. Rural A road and motorway traffic rose by 2.8% and 2.5% respectively while traffic on urban minor roads was unchanged and levels on urban A roads rose by 0.9%.
The average speed on local ‘A’ roads in England for the year ending June 2016 was 25.4 mph, down 1.7% on the previous year.
The overall rise in traffic was slightly lower than the rise in GDP over the year, which was 2%, but lower than the increase in the number of vehicles. In June there were 37.1 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads, a rise of 2.4%.