Road to traffic hell as congestion levels reach record high

For anyone who spends much time behind the wheel it might seem obvious but now government statistics have proved that Britain's roads are getting busier.
There are more vehicles covering more miles on British roads than ever beforeThere are more vehicles covering more miles on British roads than ever before
There are more vehicles covering more miles on British roads than ever before

In fact, figures for 2015 show that traffic levels across the country’s road network reached an all-time high, with more vehicles on the road covering more miles than ever.

The Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2015 Summary, from the Department for Transport, shows that a total of 316.7 billion miles were travelled in the country last year, up 1.6 per cent on 2014.

Car traffic accounted for a whopping 247.7bn of those miles - 78 per cent of the total distance travelled, proving that the car is still king.

But in what could be seen as a good sign for the economy commercial vehicle traffic was also up significantly. Light goods vehicle traffic shot up 4.2 per cent to 47bn miles and heavy goods vehicles traffic increased by the fastest rate since the 1980s (3.7 per cent), suggesting that more goods are being shipped around the country.

The figures also revealed the continuing rise in the number of vehicles on the roads. In December 2015 there were 36.5 million licensed vehicle, up 2.3 on the previous year and a huge jump from the 21m a decade ago.

The continued growth in traffic levels has inevitably seen a rise in congestion as well but the effects of hold-ups is far higher relative to the increase in traffic. According to the report, the average length of delay experienced by motorists rose 5.5 per cent on 2014. It sadly doesn’t say what effect this is having on the nation’s blood pressure.

The RAC said that the latest figures reinforced the need for urgent action to upgrade the country’s road network.

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 per cent in stark contrast to the overall length of our roads which has only increased by 2.4 per cent.

“The data shows the length of motorways increased by 11.8 per cent, however in the same period traffic levels on motorways increased by 44 per cent, demonstrating that major road usage is outstripping road space.

“The number of cars in Britain has shot up by 43 per cent from 21 million in 1995 to over 30 million in 2015, yet in that time the country’s roads are just under 6,000 miles longer.

“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.

“These figures show there is a lot of catching up that must be done.”

In perhaps the only bit of good news, the report showed that drivers are at least paying less at the pump for the fuel they’re burning sitting in traffic jams. The price of premium unleaded dropping 16.4p per litre compared with the cost in 2014.