UK road traffic reaches all-time high


We Brits do love to exaggerate when it comes to daily pet peeves. If it’s hot, it’s boiling. If it’s cold, it’s freezing. Something we do love to continuously moan about is traffic. It’s a consistent fixture in most British commuter’s lives and for once, we have licence to moan.

New data shows that 2017 saw a 1.3 percent increase in miles driven by UK drivers, up to a staggering 327.1 billion collective miles. That’s the highest figure recorded since records began back in 1949.

The dissected components of that mileage increase are as follows:

  • 1.1 percent increase in car traffic
  • 2.7 percent increase in van traffic
  • 1.2 percent increase in lorry traffic

Basically, whatever you’re driving, there are more of you on the roads than ever before.

Motorways are taking the brunt of it, with 21 percent of that yearly mileage count occurring on them, despite making up only 1 percent of the road network. Major A roads and Motorways – together comprising the Strategic Road Network – saw 34 percent of all motorised traffic, even though it accounts for only 2.4 percent of the UK’s total roads.

Surely increased road use means more cars being sold, pointing to an economy that’s healthy and growing? The former is up for debate (we’re also using our cars for longer), but even if it all holds true, care and maintenance of the UK’s road network must at least be commensurate with any usage increases, insists the RAC Foundation, which analysed the latest traffic data.


“You could see the increase in traffic, especially the extra van and lorry mileage, as a sign of a resilient and growing economy, but it also underlines the need for sustained investment in our roads,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.

“National and local highways have never been so busy and the result of so much use is easy to see in the form of potholes and ruts.

“We need consistent, long-term funding to ensure routes are adequately maintained and can stand up to the pressure.”