An annual record 324 billion vehicle miles (bvm) were travelled on Great Britain’s roads in 2016, up 2.2% on the previous year as the length of the country’s roads rose by 0.3%.
The Transport Statistics Great Britain 2017, published by the Department for Transport, revealed that 253 bvm were completed in cars, (up 2%) in 2016, while van use rose by 5% to 49 bvm. The distance travelled by lorry stayed the same at 17 bvm.
Officials said van traffic has grown faster than any other vehicle type since 2006.
Although officials described the total of 324 bvm for 2016 as a record, it appears to have already been superseded by the provisional statistics for the year to June 2017, which suggested that 325.1 bvm were travelled on English, Scottish and Welsh roads in that 12-month period.
In 2016 there were 246,500 miles of road in Great Britain, up 0.3%. Motorways and ‘A’ roads (including local authority roads) accounted for 13% of total road length, but carried 65% of total road traffic, officials said.
The increase in traffic was reflected in increased congestion, particularly on local roads. The average delay on the strategic road network in England in 2016 was nine seconds per vehicle per mile, while the average delay on local ‘A’ roads was 45.9 seconds per vehicle per mile, up 2.8%.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: ‘It’s clear how important cars and vans are to keeping the economy moving as well as maintaining people’s independence and mobility.
‘But vehicle use at an all-time high also means increasing congestion. An average 45.9 second per mile delay on local A-roads shows that significant investment is needed to help traffic flow, in order to deliver goods and services.
‘The recent announcement from Highways England delaying 16 much needed upgrades to major pinch points is a hammer blow, felt all the more so today as the increasing level of congestion is exposed.’