Record High Traffic Levels reported by the Department for Transport

May 20, 2016

The Department for Transport released their latest road traffic estimates for 2015 and they show that there were 316.7 billion miles travelled by vehicles on roads across the UK in 2015. This marks a year-on-year rise from 2014 of 1.6% and this is the highest ever level of traffic recorded.

Despite the figure being a high since records began, it was lower that the Department for Transport had predicted themselves earlier in the year.  The Department for Transport had initially expected and estimated a figure of 317.8 billion miles in 2015 but the figure wasn’t quite this high and managed to still beat the former record figure, which dated back to pre-recession times in 2007.


The most recent figures show that car traffic too had reached a record high, with 247.7 billion miles travelled by car and now cars account for 78% of all distances covered on roads in the UK. Large good vehicles saw the biggest year-on-year increase when compared with other vehicle types, as a 4.2% increase in vehicle miles on 2014 was recorded. HGV traffic also jumped massively, with the largest increase since the 1980s record. A huge 3.7% more HGV traffic occurred in 2015 than 2014.

In keeping with the record setting nature of the year, both motorways and rural roads saw record traffic levels and rural roads are still the most used of all road types. Man industry bodies have expressed their opinion on the latest figures, with the RAC coming out as concerned about the growth in traffic when compared with the growth in the number and length of UK roads.

The RAC has expressed immediate concern because the speed at which traffic has grown in the past 20 years has been so much faster than that of the UK road network. Traffic is up 18.6% on 1995 whilst the length of the roads across the UK has only increased by 2.4%.

Speaking on behalf of the RAC, Roads Policy Spokesperson, Nick Lyes commented: “Having a road network that is fit for purpose, in terms of being able to cope with increased traffic as well as being maintained to an acceptable level, is vital for a prosperous economy.”

The Department for Transport figures also suggest a prediction for 2016 and they believe there will be 318.5 billion vehicle miles travelled by the year ending in March 2016, and it will be around this time next year that we learn the accuracy of their figures. Whilst the statistics are valuable for assessing the situation, it is important to see what policy changes and measures the government put in place to react to these record high traffic levels.

Image: © Copyright Sam Kelly and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence