NI 44 - Drivers in the UK clock up record 320 BILLION miles in a year, increase of 1.2% on 2015

Post date: 11-Feb-2017 17:19:48

The internet shopping boom has made roads more congested than ever, official figures reveal. A huge increase in delivery vans is causing gridlock and longer delays for motorists.

Provisional figures released by the Department for Transport yesterday show traffic has hit record levels, exceeding the previous pre-recession peak. In total 320.5billion vehicle miles were travelled across the UK last year, up 1.2 per cent from the previous year. Traffic on motorways and rural A roads is at a record although it was ‘broadly stable’ on minor roads in towns and cities.

The increase has been driven by a surge in the number of vans delivering groceries and other goods to households, as well as a rise in lorries. The extra traffic was described last night by the Department for Transport as ‘good news’ for the economy. But the figures will also be a headache for Chancellor Philip Hammond who has already earmarked £1.3billion to tackle the traffic problem. Apart from congestion causing misery for motorists, Mr Hammond has warned that it is holding back the economy, with people spending more time in traffic jams and less time at work. Britons have had a growing love affair with internet shopping. We spent an estimated £130billion online last year, up 16 per cent on the previous year.

This has been fuelled by the rise of internet giants such as Amazon while a growing number of households also have their groceries delivered. Van traffic has risen almost five times faster than car traffic, and vans clocked up a record 48.5billion miles last year – a 3.4 per cent increase. Heavy goods vehicles were up 2.8 per cent while car traffic rose just 0.7 per cent. Over the last five years, van traffic has jumped by 17.2 per cent, almost a fifth.

According to the Department for Transport, vans and light goods vehicles have been the fastest growing traffic type over the last four years, increasing on average by 4.1 per cent a year. The Commons Transport Committee is looking at the rise of white vans as part of a wider investigation into worsening congestion on roads. It is also looking at badly planned roadworks, the increase in minicabs and the construction of more segregated cycle lanes. Committee member Will Quince warned traffic could get worse unless action is taken. He said: ‘The increase in traffic is almost certainly driven by online shopping. The drive for more convenience means internet shopping will continue to increase and more vans will be needed to deliver goods to homes.’

Mr Quince suggested that delivery companies need to work ‘more smartly’ – such as delivering later in the evening when roads are quieter and people are at home to collect their goods. Amazon is trialing the use of drones to deliver parcels after a test run last December.

Motoring group the RAC said the latest figures ‘lay bare just how increasingly congested our roads are becoming’. Spokesman Nick Lyes said: 'Motorists, who are paying in excess of £40billion a year in overall motoring taxation, will find it incredibly frustrating that they are having to deal with clogged up roads.’

Figures in October revealed congestion for motorists has risen by 40 per cent in four years, with drivers spending an extra 12.4 hours in traffic a year.

London is the worst affected part of the country, according to traffic experts Inrix, with the average driver spending 101 hours, or 12 working days, in traffic last year and average vehicle speeds of 7.4mph — slower than a horse-drawn carriage in the 18th century. But the AA said the Government’s latest figures show drivers are restricting their local journeys due to rising fuel prices and spiraling parking costs. It also pointed out that although the steady rise of internet shopping has contributed to the boom in traffic, the increase in home delivery means households are taking fewer journeys to the shops.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: ‘We are investing a record £23billion to get traffic moving and reduce delays.’

Source: Mail

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