England's traffic volumes pass pre-recession peak


Traffic volumes in England have reached an all-time high, having finally exceeded their pre-recession peak, with local road users continuing to experience the worst delays.

New statistics published by the Department for Transport (DfT) estimate that 271.1 billion vehicle miles were driven on the country’s roads in 2015, exceeding the previous peak of 269.9 billion vehicle miles in 2007.

Traffic was shared broadly equally across the strategic road network (SRN), local authority major roads, and local authority minor roads.


A total of 89.7 billion vehicle miles were travelled on Highways England’s motorways and 'A' roads, with 87.8 and 93.6 billion vehicle miles respectively on council major and minor roads.

However, despite carrying nearly a third of total traffic, Highways England’s 4,443 miles of road represents around 2.3% of the national total of 187,951 miles.

The DfT has also published new travel time statistics and analysis for both the SRN and local authority 'A' roads.

The average speed on the SRN in the year to March was estimated to be 59.3mph, with an average delay of 8.9 seconds per vehicle per mile compared to free flow. On the SRN, 66% of additional time was needed compared to free flow, on average, on individual road sections to ensure arrival on time.

The DfT stressed that its reliability figures compare observed travel times with free flow times, rather than with expected travel times: ‘Therefore, if a user rarely experiences free flowing conditions on an individual road section during the daytime, 60% additional time compared to free flow on that road section, for example, may reflect a typical travel time to them.’

The average speed of vehicles on the local ‘A’ road network in 2014 was estimated to be 26.2 mph. The average speed of vehicles on urban local ‘A’ roads was estimated to be 19.3 mph compared with 37.2 mph on rural local ‘A’ roads.

The average delay on local ‘A’ roads in 2014 is estimated to be 42.3 seconds per vehicle per mile. Road users needed to leave 135% of additional time on average to ensure arrival on time.

Update: This article was corrected as it initially stated the SRN made up 5% of the national total of road miles.  Transport Network apologises for the mistake. 

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