News & Views

Most UK drivers think traffic is getting worse
2nd November, 2017

More than half of UK drivers believe traffic on major roads has increased, findings from the 2017 RAC Report on Motoring reveal. Around 65% of vehicle miles are driven on motorways, A-roads and high-speed dual carriageways – even though these make up just a 13% portion of the UK road network.

The RAC says it is vital that proposals included in the second Road Investment Strategy tackle the most congested stretches of the network. Of the 1,727 drivers asked about traffic levels on these three types of major road, 56% were convinced congestion had worsened.

Motorways, particularly, seemed to have suffered the hardest, with 61% of respondents claiming journey times had increased on the key highways – which carry 21% of UK traffic despite accounting for just 1% of the network.

In terms of all road types, only country B-roads and unclassified country roads appear to have remained stable in terms of traffic levels – with 58% saying they had stayed the same, and just under a third (32%) insisting they had increased.

Earlier this month Highways England announced that a total of 16 road improvement projects have been delayed and six face cancellation, in news described by the RAC’s chief engineer David Bizley as “very unwelcome”.

Speaking of the “essential” need for capacity-increasing schemes to be delivered, Mr Bizley added that it is vital proposals are included in 2020/21’s second Road Investment Strategy to debottleneck the most congested stretches of the network.

“We also believe tackling congestion in the UK’s towns and cities can make an important contribution to improving air quality,” he said. "The RAC urges local authorities to consider all possible measures – including better traffic light sequencing and installing speed cushions for traffic calming in preference to speed humps – to improve urban traffic flow and average speeds.”

Driver perceptions of increased traffic levels are borne out by record Government figures, which estimate 252.6 billion vehicle miles were driven in 2016 – a 2.2% increase on the previous year. The RAC’s report shows the reasons people offer for increased motorway congestion include major roadworks (47%), middle-lane hogging drivers (45%) and lorries overtaking other lorries (40%). 

Nigel Kerr, Commercial Director, Logical Vehicle Management commented ‘the findings of the RAC report will be no surprise to those of us that regularly drive around the country. A coordinated plan to tackle road congestion is urgently needed. This should also help to improve air pollution’.

Sources: RAC