Motor vehicle traffic in England, Scotland and Wales increased for the tenth quarter in succession in the three months to September 2015, according to new UK government data – contributing to the highest rolling annual total on record.
The statistics, which were published by the Department for Transport (DfT) on November 12th and will remain provisional until final annual estimates are delivered in summer 2016, show that traffic on Britain’s roads is up 2.2 per cent year on year, with a collective 316.1 billion miles clocked between October 2014 and September 2015.
This beats September 2007’s pre-recessional peak by 0.6 per cent and appears to mirror growth in the UK economy over the same timeframe, which saw the country’s GDP increase 2.6 per cent.
It also may have been influenced by lower fuel prices, according to DfT, with the cost of premium unleaded down 14.8 pence year on year, and diesel 17.1 pence cheaper.
When the statistics are broken down by vehicle and road class, they yield similarly fascinating insights. Car traffic was up by just 1.7 per cent, for example, while van traffic increased six per cent to account for 46.9 billion miles of travel. Rural minor roads saw the fastest growth in volume, with traffic on this road class rising 5.8 per cent over the 12-month period.
Despite these increases, the UK saw a statistically significant decrease in road casualties over a roughly equivalent timeframe, according to another recent data release from DfT.
The department said on November 5th that 22,830 people were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads between July 2014 and June 2015 – down seven per cent year on year. Casualties of all severities totalled 180,500 – also a seven per cent decrease.
This indicates that “a number of factors … have combined together to improve some aspects of safety”, even if it falls some way short of definitive evidence of “a continued improvement in road safety”, the data release read.