Traffic increasing twice as fast as previously thought


The increase in traffic levels on Great Britain’s roads last year was nearly twice as high as previously estimated, with traffic at a new record high.

The figures come in the Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2016 statistical release from the Department for Transport, which show that overall traffic rose by 2.2% to 323.7 billion miles (bvm).


Provisional estimates published in February gave an overall figure of 320.5 billion vehicle miles travelled on the country’s roads during 2016, 1.2% higher than 2015.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: ‘These figures underline the importance in having a road network that is truly fit for purpose – and a reminder to whoever forms the next government that investment must be sustained to support further economic growth, and to provide roads that deliver safe, reliable journeys for every UK motorist.’

Mr Lyes added that many local roads are ‘struggling to cope with a depressing combination of congestion and potholes’.

He said: ‘The RAC believes that a strategic plan which includes longer term, ring-fenced funding is needed and that it recognises the vital role local roads play in moving people and goods around the country.’

In 2016 car traffic grew by 2% to 252.6 bvm - the highest annual car traffic estimate ever – while van traffic continued to grow more quickly than any other vehicle type, rising 4.7% from 2015 to 49.1 bvm.

Lorry traffic showed little change from 2015, having grown steadily for the previous three years and cycle traffic was 3.5 bvm.

England’s strategic road network carried 91.9 bvm of traffic, which was a third of all motorised traffic in the country. Across Great Britain, motorways carried 67.8 bvm of traffic, 2% up on 2015 and almost 10% higher than 10 years ago.

Rural roads saw a 2.6% rise in traffic from 2015, with traffic on both ‘A’ roads and minor roads reaching record levels. Urban road traffic increased by 1.8% from 2015, though it remained below the peak level seen in 2007.


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