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Motor traffic on Britain's roads falls for third year in a row

Motoring lobby slams cost of driving, but DfT still forecasting huge rise in the years ahead

New statistics published by the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal that the volume of motor vehicle traffic in Great Britain has fallen for the third year in a row – the first time that has happened since records began in 1949.

According to Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2011, total motor vehicle traffic on Britain’s roads in 2010 amounted to 308.1 billion miles, a 1.6 per cent decline on the previous year.

That followed falls of, respectively, 1.0 per cent from 2008-09 and 0.8 per cent from 2008-09; however, motor traffic volumes remain 6.2 per cent above levels recorded in 2000.

Most of the fall in motor traffic in 2010 was attributed to lower levels of car use, with a 2.1 per cent year-on-year reduction to 243.8 billion miles. HGV traffic, however, registered a slight increase, up 0.3 per cent on its 2009 level to reach a total of 16.4 billion miles.

One motorists’ campaign group, the Association of British Drivers, has accused the Coalition Government of continuing the so-called ‘War on the Motorist’ that former transport secretary Philip Hammond had promised to end after last year’s General Election, reports the Daily Mail.

The newspaper added that publication of the figures had been accompanied by calls to reduce the cost of motoring through initiatives such as cutting the level of fuel duty.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet told the Daily Mail: “People are being priced off the roads, and it is those on low incomes and those in rural areas who are worst affected.

“There is a real danger that motoring is being wound back to the 1960s and 70s, when it was by and large the preserve of the middle classes,” he continued. “Ministers need to read the runes and take action.”

The DfT’s National Transport Model, however, suggests that the reduction in motor traffic seen over the past three years is only a temporary trend, with a predicted 43 per cent rise between 2003 and 2043.

By far the greatest increase is expected to be seen in light van traffic over that period, forecast to more than double with a 103 per cent rise over 2003 levels.

News of other statistics relating to lorries from Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2011 can be found here.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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