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UK Roads Busier Than Ever

By raccars Published

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Data released by the Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed that traffic on UK roads is increasing, with the last year the busiest yet for British drivers. The DfT measures gross mileage in the UK on an annual basis from June to June. In June 2015 the highest number yet was recorded, with 314.6 billion gross traffic miles covered ? the equivalent of travelling from Earth to Pluto and back 33 times.

Year-on-year road mileage increased by 2.3%, taking it above pre-recession levels. Estimates have seen growth in traffic for nine consecutive quarters and across all road types and all vehicle classes. The result is a lower average traffic speed, down to 23.8mph during morning rush hour on major roads; however, in the busiest cities, such as London, the average traffic speed at peak times drops to 15mph.

The DfT says the data suggests that increasing numbers of people in Britain are buying and using cars, which it has attributed to recovery in the UK economy and lower fuel prices. Percentage growth in road mileage appears to be closely following GDP growth at 2.6% at the end of June this year; furthermore, the average retail price of petrol by the end of June 2015 was down by 12.6% year-on-year.

Growth is most evident in the van sector, with van road mileage up by 6.3% year-on-year to total 46.3 billion annually. 245 billion road miles are driven by cars and taxis, which is an increase of 1.7% year-on-year.

Pre-recession road miles peaked at 314.1 billion in 2008, dropping 1.8% the following year to 308.6 billion and going down to 302.5 billion in 2013. From June 2013 to June 2014 drivers increased their total mileage to 307.5 billion, then to 314.6 billion from June 2014 to June 2015.

The DfT takes traffic counts on a quarterly and an annual basis, with quarterly counts calculated by a 180-strong national network of automatic traffic counters (ATC); however annual traffic estimates are made manually by about 10,000 counters, which are then combined with the ATC numbers and cross referenced with road lengths.

Previous DfT reports have predicted a rise in road traffic of between 19% and 55% between 2010 and 2040, according to various different socio-economic scenarios. This forecast suggests traffic growth based upon predicted population growth rather than an increasing number of road journeys and road miles per person.

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