Congested roads and slower journey times have become a much greater concern for drivers, the 2016 Report on Motoring has found. More than a quarter of motorists (27%) say that congestion is one of their top four concerns this year, a huge increase on the 18% recorded in 2015. Congestion is a number-one concern for 7% of drivers, against 5% 12 months ago.
The research found that this concern is highest in the South East of England: here, 36% say congestion is a top-four concern, with 9% ranking it at number one.
This issue has fed through into journey times, with 71% saying that the time taken to complete local trips is becoming less predictable (up from 67% in 2015), and 70% saying the same of journeys on major roads (also 67% in 2015).
The biggest contributory factor to greater concern over congestion appears to be higher traffic volumes. According to Department for Transport estimates for 2015, there was an overall 1.6% increase on 2014 to 317bn vehicle miles21.
At the same time, average traffic speeds were down, resulting in a typical rise in delays of 5.5% on the previous year. The DfT cited the fact that GDP rose in 2015 while fuel prices fell as the main reasons for growth in traffic levels.
Just under three-quarters of motorists (73%) believe that local and national government should take ‘much tougher’ steps to reduce congestion (72% in 2015). It is not clear exactly what these steps should be, although it is worth noting that there has been a slight increase (from 31% to 33%) in the percentage of drivers who would be willing to pay per mile for road use provided this was offset by a reduction in other motoring taxes.
Overall vehicle miles in England and Wales