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Car traffic levels reach record high in 2015

The ‘Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2015’ report shows that traffic continued to grow last year, albeit more moderately to previous years, and reached 316.7 billion vehicle miles.

Car traffic grew by 1.1% from 2014, to 247.7 billion vehicle miles – slightly higher than the previous record in 2007.

Van traffic continued to grow more quickly than any other vehicle type, rising 4.2% from 2014 levels.

Lorry traffic saw the largest year-on-year increase since the 1980s, growing by 3.7% from 2014

Motorways carried 66.5 billion vehicle miles of traffic, 2.6% more than in 2014 and 10% more than 10 years ago.

Long term traffic trends show that since the 1950s the long term trend in traffic has been one of growth: vehicle miles travelled in 2015 are over ten times higher than in 1949.

However, over the last 20 years there has been a decline in the rate of traffic growth. Between 2007 and 2010 after the recent recession, motor vehicle traffic fell for three consecutive years. This was followed by a period of stability until 2013.

In response RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: “While traffic has only increased very slightly on the previous year it has taken us to record levels, but the longer term picture is more concerning with overall traffic since 1995 growing by 18.6% in stark contrast to the overall length of our roads which has only increased by 2.4%.

“Having a road network that is fit for purpose, in terms of being able to cope with increased traffic as well as being maintained to an acceptable level, is vital for a prosperous economy. There is little doubt that the Government’s Road Investment Strategy recognises the importance of this, but these figures show there is a lot of catching up that must be done.”

Brake also expressed concern over the figures. Campaigns adviser Alice Bailey said: “These new figures show our message of “drive less live more” is more pertinent than ever. We have record car usage in the UK along with all the congestion and pollution this brings. More traffic means more risks to vulnerable road users and danger to the health of both individuals and the planet. To see a reduction in levels of vehicle use, we need everyone to seriously consider if they really need to make that journey by car and always walk, cycle or use public transport if they can.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.