Recently the UK government published a report on road traffic levels in 2017.
It’s important to note that the Department for Transport stats are based on manual traffic counts on selected routes, counted on weekdays only. There are also a wide range of camera data sources too, but these mainly cover A roads, motorways and urban arterial routes. Any accident-per-mile figures issued by the department on motorcycles should be taken with a pinch of salt, as most motorcycles are used for leisure at weekends, on quieter rural roads, and nobody is counting these journeys.
So what were the key findings?
*Internet retailing has doubled the number of vans on UK roads during weekdays over the last ten years. About 15% of all traffic on the roads is made up of vans, and many of those will be involved in online delivery orders. Quite shocking when you consider the wider impact on health, carbon fuel usage, unsocial hours for drivers, and the sheer cost of deliveries and returns via online shopping.
*Drivers are avoiding choked up towns and cities and travelling across the UK using rural routes, simply to try and keep moving. Some people are putting themselves through two hours of car commuting a day, simply to try and avoid the well-known local hot-spots when it comes to traffic jams.
The extra costs in fuel used, tiredness, relationship stress etc. caused by ever longer commuting routes is all down to appalling traffic management by councils and central government alike. For two decades everyone in the public sector has done their level best to create a hostile environment for car drivers in towns and cities, now they seem upset that drivers are avoiding them – what did you expect?
*All types of vehicle use showed a small percentage rise, except bus journeys which dropped by 3%, and motorcycle and scooter use which remained static, according to DfT guesstimates.
*Although the DfT statistics claim they can identify a foreign owned vehicle from a UK registered one via number plates, they publish no data on the number of untaxed, or uninsured vehicles picked up by automatic camera systems – either the cameras can read number plates or they can’t, which is it?
RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: “The data reflects what motorists are telling us – that they are more dependent on their cars to get to work, visit family and friends and manage their daily lives than ever before and they are finding that public transport is failing to provide a reliable and effective alternative.
“The dramatic drop in the number of miles driven by buses is a major cause for concern. We know that for many people public transport options are sparse, or that it is simply not affordable nor practical.
“Despite drivers reporting that they are spending more on fuel and insurance, there is a genuine desire to use alternative transport options where practical. In meantime, they are having to deal with increasingly busy roads and as such it’s vitally important that promised investment into the road network gives the extra capacity and increased journey reliability which were promised. Motorists contribute over £40bn a year to the Treasury in motoring related taxation.
Insurance Edge Comment;
If we really want a 24/7 online lifestyle, where no shop ever really closes and goods are being shipped around the clock, then build an infrastructure that can cope with it. The number of pot-holes on the roads is at a dangerous level, it can only be a matter of time until someone on two wheels is killed after losing control hitting a deep pot-hole at speed on a busy A road or motorway.
Town centres need to be multi-use to survive, with events like festivals, casual dining or sporting events happening regularly to drive footfall. Where will people park? It means councils have to re-think their policy of allowing free parking at out-of-town malls, and gouging every fiver from from drivers willing to park in a town centre.
Finally, let’s automate the process of uninsured/untaxed vehicle enforcement with smarter technology. Traffic wardens, ANPR operators, Capita TV licence staff, meter readers or PCSOs should be able to check a vehicle status instantly, using a real-time database. Then they can physically attach a tracker so that uninsured cars can be located, clamped and seized.