England’s strategic road network (SRN) became less congested and more reliable in the past year, despite traffic levels across Great Britain hitting a new record high for the ninth consecutive quarter.
New figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that in the year to September 2017, the average delay to users of the SRN fell by 0.1 seconds per vehicle mile (1%) to 8.9 seconds.
The amount of additional time (compared to free flow) that users of the SRN needed to ensure on time arrival fell by 1.1 percentage points to 67.4%. Officials said this meant that on average the network was becoming more reliable.
However, on local A roads for the year ending in September, the average delay was estimated to be 46.4 seconds per mile, compared to free flow, an increase of 0.8 seconds (1.7%) on to the previous year.
While the average speed on the SRN was 59.5 mph, up 0.3% compared to the previous year, the average speed on local A roads remained at 25.3 mph.
Officials cautioned that the figures between the two road types are not directly comparable.
The DfT has also published Provisional Road Traffic Estimates for Great Britain for the year ending in September 2017. These suggest that an estimated 325.5 billion vehicle miles (bvm) were travelled on roads in England, Scotland and Wales during the year.
Officials pointed out that this is the ninth consecutive quarter in which the figure has hit a record high and that the figure for rolling annual motor vehicle traffic has increased in each quarter for over four years.
Car traffic increased by 0.9% to a record 253.7 bvm, while van traffic hit 50.1%, although lorry traffic fell by 1.5%. Officials said this was the first quarter van traffic had exceeded 50 bvm.
Traffic increased on all road types apart from urban A roads. New record traffic levels were seen on Britain’s motorways (68.2 bvm) and minor rural roads (46.2 bvm).