Growth in van use takes traffic levels to new high

Traffic on British roads reached another record high in the year ending in March, with vans again leading the increase, according to new statistics from the DfT.

Provisional estimates for the year ending March also show an increase on recently released final estimates for the year ending in December, despite those figures being revised upwards compared to initial estimates.

The provisional figure of 324.3 billion vehicle miles (bvm) travelled on Great Britain’s roads in the year ending March 2017 was 1.7% higher than the previous year and 3.2% higher than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.

The DfT said rolling annual motor vehicle traffic has now increased in each quarter in succession for four years.

Although the number of cars on the roads rose during the year by 1.4% to a record 252.9 bvm, van traffic rose three times as fast, increasing by 4.5% to a new peak of 49.6 bvm.

For the last four years, van traffic has increased on average by 4.8% a year, and has been the fastest growing traffic type (in percentage terms) over this time.

While lorry traffic fell over the year by 0.8% to 16.6 bvm, DfT officials said HGV traffic is 7.5% higher than four years ago, making it the second fastest growing traffic type in this period.

Officials said provisional estimates for traffic on both rural ‘A’ roads and rural minor roads were the highest ever recorded. Compared to the previous year, in the year ending March 2017 traffic on rural ‘A’ roads, grew by 2.4% to 94.3 bvm. A total of 45.7 bvm were driven on rural minor roads on the year.

Traffic levels rose on all main categories of road. The number of miles driven on motorways increased by 1% to 67.7 bvm, A road traffic increased by 1.6% and traffic on minor roads as a whole increased by 2.1%.

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