Traffic congestion – who to blame?

Traffic congestion hit the headlines on Saturday – with a headline in the Cornish Guardian

Motorists complain of “shocking” traffic throughout Cornwall.

Disgruntled motorists took to social media to vent their frustration at non-moving traffic, with areas such as Threemilestone and Bodmin the most affected.


Responding to the news ‘Cornish Tog’ said – Cornwall Council should be held to account – there are traffic queues right across the Duchy from Bodmin to Lelant- this is not good enough . No wonder people are getting angry somebody has got to take responsibility! Heads should roll!

Anger seems to be a common reaction when problems arise today. But who should we blame? It seems that two elements were instrumental in causing congestion on Saturday – a number of accidents and road closures/restrictions due to infrastructure works. Accidents/traffic incidents happen unfortunately and infrastructure works are part and parcel of maintaining the road and rail network. Looking for scapegoats does not help.

The real issue is the growth in traffic levels which means that an accident or roadworks has a greater impact on congestion that it would have done with lower traffic levels. The increase in traffic levels reflects a rise in vehicle numbers and more traffic movements, both attributable to population growth and an increase in car use as people travel from place to place for shopping, leisure, employment etc.

Between 2001 and 2011 car and van numbers increased by 21% in Cornwall (South West England 16%). No wonder we have more congestion!

Rather than motorists getting angry they should think about real policy prescriptions. That means addressing population growth and changing transport policies to reduce car use. Car users also need to recognise that they are part of the problem!


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