New provisional figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) have revealed motor vehicle traffic has reached a record high. In the year ending December 2016, HGV traffic grew by 2.8 per cent overall to 17.1 billion vehicle miles and car traffic increased by 0.7 per cent to a record high of 249.5 billion vehicle miles.
Provisionally, 320.5 billion vehicle miles were travelled on Great Britain’s roads in the year ending December 2016, a figure 1.2 per cent higher than 2015 and two per cent higher than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.
Estimates suggest A-road traffic showed an increase of 2.0 per cent, mainly on rural A-roads (increase of 2.5 per cent to 93.6 billion vehicle miles), while traffic on urban A-roads increased by a smaller degree (up 1.1 per cent to 50.2 billion vehicle miles).
The report suggests the rise is partly due to the growth in the economy, as well as lower fuel prices.
The figures should “give cause for alarm”, according to Gary Rae, campaigns director for road safety charity, Brake.
He said: “These rises are not sustainable. Provisional estimates suggest that both A-roads and motorways experienced the highest level of vehicle traffic recorded; motorway traffic increased by 2.1 per cent to 67.9 billion vehicle miles in 2016, continuing a long-term trend of increasing motorway traffic over the past six years.
“The figures are heading the wrong way and we’re heading for gridlock,” he added. “The government needs to get a grip and outline what it intends to do. Back in 2015, during Road Safety Week, we highlighted the lethal consequences of too many vehicles on our roads. The situation is becoming markedly worse.”
RAC public affairs spokesman Nick Lyes added: “The statistics lay bare just how increasingly congested our roads are becoming. 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.”
Lyes said concerns about congestion and longer journey times is now ranked fourth in the list of overall motoring concerns according to the latest RAC Report on Motoring, up from ninth in 2015.
“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,” he added. “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.”