New traffic peak frustrates motorists and campaigners


Traffic volumes hit a new record high last year, the latest estimates suggest.

The Provisional Road Traffic Estimates for Great Britain in 2016, published by the Department for Transport, give a provisional figure of 320.5 billion vehicle miles travelled on the country’s roads during the year.


This was 1.2% higher than 2015 and a record level, 2% higher than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007. The rolling annual figure for motor vehicle traffic has increased in each quarter for over three years.

Nick Lyes, public affairs spokesman at the RAC, said motorists, ‘who are paying in excess of £40bn a year in overall motoring taxation, will find it incredibly frustrating that they are having to deal with clogged up roads’.

He added: ‘While the Government has made progress in investing in the strategic road network, motorists will be unforgiving if the same attention isn’t given to local roads. These record figures show there is a lot of catching up to be done if we are going to keep motorists, and the economy moving.’

Bridget Fox of the Campaign for Better Transport said: ‘Given what we now know about the country’s lethal and illegal levels of air pollution, more than ever we must see urgent action taken to halt the growth in traffic levels on our roads.’

She called for the Government to invest in sustainable transport, locate new homes near public transport, and get more freight off roads and onto rail.

Although car traffic increased by 0.7% to a record 249.5 billion vehicle miles, van (3.4%) and heavy goods vehicle (2.8%) traffic rose by higher percentages.

Motorway traffic increased by 2.1% to 67.9 billion vehicle miles and has increased on average by 1.8% annually over the last six years. ‘A’ road traffic rose by 2.0%, mainly driven by traffic on rural ‘A’ roads, which grew by 2.5% to 93.6 billion vehicle miles.


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