Van traffic in Britain grew more quickly than any other vehicle type in 2016, rising by 4.7% to 49.1 billion vehicle miles.
Rural minor roads saw the largest proportional increase in van traffic (10.3%) followed by motorways (5.3%). Motorways and rural ‘A’ roads carried around half of all van traffic in 2016.
Overall, 323.7 billion miles were driven on the roads, 2.2% up on the previous year, according to figures released by the Department for Transport.
Lorries accounted for 16.6 billion miles, which was 0.2% down on the previous year after increasing by 7% between 2012 and 2015. Continuing a general trend seen over the past 20 years, there was a small rise in lorry traffic on motorways and rural ‘A’ roads in 2016, and a decrease on other road types.
Car traffic grew by 2% from 2015 to 252.6bn vehicle miles – the highest annual car traffic estimate ever.
Since the 1980s, cars have accounted for around 80% of all motor vehicle traffic, but the van segment has continued to grow and accounted for 15% of all motor vehicle traffic last year. Van miles have increased by 71% since 1996, and the number of licensed vans by 74%.
The growth in internet shopping and home deliveries has accounted for much of the growth in van traffic. However, the DfT also suggests that fewer regulations for vans compared to trucks on driver training, driver’s hours and roadworthiness testing for vans make it easier to find drivers for vans and may have encouraged businesses to swap small lorries for vans.