UK traffic at highest level ever

Vehicle traffic in the UK has reached its highest level ever, according to provisional figures from the DfT.

In 2015, 317.8 billion vehicle miles were travelled – up 2.2% on 2014.

Of the total, cars accounted for 248.6 billion (up 1.7%), vans for 47.7 billion (up 6.1%), trucks for 16.2 billion (up 1.1%) and other vehicles for 5.8 billion.

The figures leave trucks accounting for 5.1% of total vehicle miles driven, with vans at 15% and cars at 78.2%. Over the past 20 years, total traffic has risen 19%, with car vehicle miles rising 13.9%, vans 72.4% and trucks 2.2%.

As of September, there were 36.5 million vehicles licensed for use on UK roads.

A DfT spokesman said that despite the record levels of traffic, it remained confident it was doing enough to keep motorways and A-roads flowing.

“Roads are key to the UK’s growing economy, creating jobs and opening up opportunities. We are making the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s, investing a record £15bn to improve motorways and major A-roads to keep our country moving and make journeys more reliable,” he said.

Chrys Rampley, manager – infrastructure, security and business affairs at the RHA, said the very fact that the DfT was doing so much was in itself causing problems. “It feels like the whole country is covered in roadworks as it tries to catch up on the backlog of maintenance and improvements,” she said.

The way such works are managed is a critical issue, said Rampley, citing the hours of delay faced by motorists on the M5 earlier this month after works overran. The length of time taken to clear up diesel spills after an incident – which often involves resurfacing the road – was another particular issue, added Rampley.

“There could be better co-ordination between Highways England and the managing agents/police as to how they handle these incidents,” she said.


This story originally appeared in the 18 February issue. Why not subscribe and get 12 issues for just £12?