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Road traffic reaches record level

Motor vehicle traffic reached a record high in the year ending September 2016, with increases seen across all vehicle types, according to DfT estimates.

Vehicles in heavy traffic on M6 motorway

Latest estimates indicate traffic on motorways reached a record level in the year ending September 2016

The latest provisional data indicates overall traffic on British roads rose 1.4% to 320 billion vehicle miles compared to the previous year; 1.8% higher than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.

Compared to the previous year, car traffic was up 0.9% to a record 249.4 billion vehicle miles; 1.2 billion more vehicle miles travelled than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.

Van traffic also continued to rise, increasing by 3.8% to a new peak of 48.2 billion vehicle miles.

And HGV traffic grew by 3.4% overall to 17.1 billion vehicle miles, and reached a new peak on motorways of 7.9 billion vehicle miles.

Road traffic has now increased for the last three years, with the DfT saying the rise is likely due to growth both in the UK economy and population over the same period while lower fuel prices may also have contributed.

The DfT’s provisional estimates also indicate that traffic on motorways and rural ‘A’ roads were the highest ever recorded.

Compared to the previous year, in the year ending September 2016 motorway traffic increased by 2.5% to 67.7 billion vehicle miles. Over the last six years, motorway traffic has increased on average by 1.7% per year.

‘A’ road traffic showed an increase of 2.1%. This was mainly driven by traffic on rural ‘A’ roads, which grew by 2.8% to 93.1 billion vehicle miles. Traffic on urban ‘A’ roads increased by 0.9% to 50.2 billion vehicle miles.

Minor road traffic has been broadly stable for the last six quarters, at 44.4 billion vehicle miles for minor rural roads, and 64.7 billion vehicle miles for urban minor roads.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.