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Car Miles Fall, Van and Truck Traffic Rises

Car traffic has increased by 32.9%, recently, reaching 2375 billion vehicle miles year on year

03 November 2022

Car Miles Fall, Van and Truck Traffic Rises

Car traffic has increased by 32.9%, recently, reaching 2375 billion vehicle miles year on year. However, according to new information released by the Department of Transport, car traffic is currently down to pre-pandemic levels.

From March 2021 to March 2022, van and HGV traffic increased by 25.2% and 10.1%. The sum total for all motor vehicles in Great Britain for the year ending in March 2022, reached a travel distance of 318.6 billion vehicle miles. This is a 29.7% increase over the previous year.

Interestingly, these levels were 5.9% down on levels recorded for the year ending December 2019. This was, of course, the pre-pandemic era. The annual rolling estimate for car traffic is also lower than it was before the pandemic started - down by 9.6% in comparison to 2019.

Rising and Falling Levels

Before the pandemic got started, car and taxi traffic was up 5.7% between 2015 and 2019. However, van traffic was higher than the levels we saw during the pandemic. It was up 9.9%, in comparison to the year ended December 2019.

Before the pandemic, we saw van traffic increase by roughly 11.8%. This took place between 2015 and 2019. Additionally, before the pandemic began, HGV traffic rose by 2.6% between 2015 and 2019.

Nicholas Lyes, the RAC Head of Roads Policy, says that:

“Traffic volumes appear to still be below pre-pandemic levels with flexible working patterns that have become commonplace across the UK likely to be a major factor. Nonetheless, the trend is upwards, especially so for vans and HGVs – both of which show higher traffic volumes than prior to the pandemic.

Therefore, it remains vitally important that the Government continues to invest in improving our road network to increase capacity.”

Levels Continue to Fluctuate

With regards to road traffic by the type of road in question, motorway traffic saw an increase of 38%, equal to 65.4 billion vehicle miles, which is in comparison to the year ending March 2021.

The rolling annual estimates for motorway traffic remain lower than those encountered before the pandemic, with a 7.2% drop in comparison to the end of December 2019.


This is in sharp contrast to the beginning of the pandemic when motorway traffic increased by 6% between 2015 and 2019. Traffic on the “A” roads also increased by 29.6%, equating to 138.5 billion vehicle miles.

With that being said, road traffic on these specific roads is actually lower than before the pandemic started. This is a drop of 7.8% down from the year ending December 2019. Before the pandemic, “A” road traffic reported a 6.5% increase between 2015 and 2019.

Final News

The final news is that minor road traffic saw a 25.6% increase in comparison to the year that ended with March 2021. The traffic rose to 114.3 billion vehicle miles.

Ultimately, traffic levels are changing as the pandemic ends. Car traffic is down, but van and HGV traffic is rising as the logistics industry (among others) continues to boom.

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