Rush hour returns – and the school run is to blame

The morning rush hour has been absent for six months, but new data shows the September return to school has heralded its return

Parents dropping off their children on the school run

The morning rush hour is back with traffic levels returning to a level last seen before the COVID pandemic, new research shows.  

Data from motorists with black box car insurance shows a significant rise in the number of cars on the road, particularly between 8am and 9am.

Experts are blaming this on the beginning of the school year.  

The volume of cars on the road in September has now returned to the same level as weekdays back in January.

Numbers were also up 55 percent on the same period in late August before schools returned.

RAC insurance data suggests staggered drop-off times at schools could even be extending the morning rush hour.

Traffic has also returned to pre-lockdown levels in the afternoon, both for the school rush of 3pm to 4pm, and the evening rush between 5pm and 6pm.  

“The fact that between a fifth and a third of the UK workforce is still working remotely shows just what role the school drop-off plays in creating the phenomenon we know as the morning rush hour,” said the RAC’s Rod Dennis.

“Dropping off children at schools and nurseries contributes far more to morning traffic in the 8am to 9am window that commuters heading to workplaces.

“What’s abundantly apparent is how dependent parents are on the car for getting children to their places of study or play during the week.”

The big question, added Mr Dennis, is whether morning road traffic now continues to rise in the autumn.  


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Richard Aucock
Richard is director at Motoring Research. He has been with us since 2001, and has been a motoring journalist even longer. He won the IMCO Motoring Writer of the Future Award in 1996 and the acclaimed Sir William Lyons Award in 1998. Both awards are run by the Guild of Motoring Writers and Richard is currently chairman of the world's largest organisation for automotive media professionals. Richard is also a juror for World Car Awards and the UK juror for the AUTOBEST awards.


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