Traffic (1)


Traffic growth in Great Britain

Over the last two decades the rate of car traffic growth has slowed. For an average person, car use fell throughout the 2000s, but this was partially offset by an increase in population using the roads.

Increases in the average distance travelled per person per year occurred in the three decades 1970 to 2000, for personal travel. This was largely due to increases in average trip lengths since the 1970s, which rose over 50% to 7 miles in 2014. However, since the early 2000s average distance and trip length have levelled off.

Motor vehicle traffic had a pre-recession peak of 314.1 billion vehicle miles in 2007 after which it fell for three consecutive years; the first consecutive falls since traffic records began. Recent trends show a resumption of traffic growth after the recession.

At the individual level, the average distance driven per person has fallen over the last decade or so (though there are different trends for different groups. Despite this, overall car traffic levels were broadly stable over the same period, in part due to increasing population.

In 2014, car traffic had the largest annual increase since the early 2000s. Provisional 2015 estimates suggest that this trend is continuing. The upward trend in traffic levels is likely to reflect growth in the UK economy (although GDP has been growing from around 2010, the rate of growth was faster from 2013 to 2015). Lower fuel prices, and hence cheaper travel, may also have contributed to increased traffic.

Road Use Statistics, Great Britain 2016, Statistical Release 7 April 2016.

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