Latest official figures show a huge jump in motorway traffic over the past two decades
The latest government statistics aren’t showing promising news for motorway traffic. According to the most recent numbers, there has been a 60% increase in the number of vehicles using UK motorways during the past two decades.
In fact, during the past 12 months alone, vehicles have travelled approximately 67.4 billion miles on UK motorways, RAC reported.
What’s causing the increase in motorway traffic?
There are several factors which have led to the increase in motorway traffic in the UK. One of the major factors would be the increase of HGVs and delivery vans using the motorways, as a result of the growing popularity of online shopping. Another factor that experts are considering is the return of more car drivers to motorways such as the M25 and M1 following the completion of roadwork. With the increase of both HGVs and returned car traffic, motorway capacity is now being pushed to its limits.
Are there plans to ease traffic flow?
With the drastic increase in motorway traffic, some experts think that there’s a case to be made for ‘all lane running’ motorways. These lanes differ from smart motorways (which use the hard shoulder only during the peak times of the day) because they turn hard shoulders into permanent lanes – which are seen as a cheap and far less disruptive way of increasing traffic flow. But there are concerns with this proposed solution, primarily because all lane running motorways make it difficult for emergency services to access accident sites and also prevent police from stopping suspicious vehicles.
“The RAC has repeatedly expressed concerns about the latest design which turns the hard shoulder motorways into a permanent running lane,” RAC chief engineer David Bizley said. “The safety of motorists must come first and therefore new designs need to be trialed for sufficiently long to demonstrate their safety before they are introduced more widely.”
The Transport Select Committee also issued in June that plans for making more all running motorways will be put on hold until such safety concerns are addressed.
Earlier this summer, we reported on Highways England’s top tips for motorway summer driving where you can find out more about how to drive safely on busy motorways