According to provisional estimates from the Department for Transport (DfT), traffic on Britain’s roads reached an all-time high for the year ending September 2016. Motor vehicle traffic was 320bn miles during this period, 1.4 per cent up on the previous year and 1.8 per cent above the 2007 pre-recession peak.
Although car traffic was up by 0.9 per cent compared to the preceding 12-month period, much of the growth was accounted for by vans and HGVs.
Van traffic was up 3.8 per cent to 48.2bn miles, while HGV traffic was up 3.4 per cent to 17.1bn miles.
HGV traffic fell until 2013 but has risen since then. Van traffic, by contrast, remained stable until 2013 but has also risen steadily since then.
Earlier in the year, The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) responded to the rise in van traffic by urging employers to carry out appropriate risk assessments on drivers.
The organisation has expressed concern that with no additional test or qualification required to drive a van, there could be a rise in road traffic collisions.
IAM cited figures from the Department for Transport which state that van drivers are almost twice as likely as car drivers to use hand-held mobile phones at the wheel – 2.7 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent of car drivers.
The figures indicate that much of the traffic growth has come on rural A-roads and motorways, with the former up 2.8 per cent and the latter 2.5 per cent. Traffic on urban minor roads has remained stable. Urban A-road traffic has risen by 0.9 per cent and rural minor road traffic has fallen by 0.3 per cent.
The average speed on local A-roads in England for the year ending June 2016 was 25.4mph, down 1.7 per cent on the previous year.
In June 2016 there were 37.1m vehicles licensed for use, a rise of 2.4 per cent on a year before.