Road Safety News

Traffic volumes and speed down in Q1 2013

Friday 10th May 2013

Statistics published by the DfT (9 May) show that both motor traffic volumes and vehicle speeds were lower in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.

Road traffic estimates for Great Britain: quarter 1 2013’ shows that overall traffic levels decreased by 2.3%. Car and light goods vehicle traffic both decreased by 1.9%, while heavy goods vehicle traffic decreased by 3.8%.

While traffic volumes decreased on all road types, there were larger decreases on rural and urban roads (2.5% and 2.9% respectively) than on motorways (0.7%).

Another DfT report, ‘Congestion on local authority managed 'A' roads: January to March 2013’, suggests that speeds on some roads at certain times of the day also fell. The provisional data shows that average speeds during the weekday morning peak on locally managed ‘A’ roads were slower in January 2013 (down 4.4%), February 2013 (down 1.8%) and March 2013 (down 1.9%) compared with the same months in 2012.

These reductions follow a long period of increases since December 2010. Annual average speeds generally decreased between the years ending March 2012 and March 2013.

The DfT says the decreases are likely to have been influenced by heavier rainfall in each of the months over this period compared to the same months in the previous year. The larger decrease in average speeds in January 2013 is likely to be explained by a period of significant snowfall across much of the country in that month, which caused considerable disruption on the roads.

Contact the DfT on 020 7944 6579 for more information.


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This story doesn’t appear to have a point or conclusion. The percentage changes in speeds are so small as to be insignificant. Allowing for errors in measuring and calculating, it could really be ‘no actual change’ and seems inconclusive. How many ‘A’ roads are included? At best, the greater speed reduction reported (4.4%) if accurate, could typically represent 1 – 2 mph reduction … wow! Are we to rejoice or be disappointed?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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