Report on Motoring 2016

Congestion and parking

1.4 Congestion and parking

Motorists have reported a sharp rise in concern about congestion and journey times this year. More than a quarter of drivers (27%) say these issues are among their top four concerns – this represents a very substantial rise on the 18% recorded in 2015. Meanwhile, 7% named high levels of traffic and resulting delays as their number-one concern compared with 5% last year.

These views reflected Department for Transport (DfT) estimates of traffic volumes in 2015, which showed a 1.6% increase on the previous year to a total of 317bn vehicle miles12. The DfT also found that typical traffic speeds were down, with average delays up by 5.5% on 2014.

It is highly likely that road traffic volumes are up as a result of a number of factors including the ongoing falls in the price of fuel, increases in wages making motoring more affordable, and general economic prosperity increasing commercial vehicle traffic.

Given the rising level of concern about congestion, it comes as little surprise to learn that motorists report they are also facing greater difficulties in parking. One in seven (14%) say that the availability of parking is one of their four biggest concerns this year, a significant increase on the 8% recorded last year. The cost of parking is an even more serious issue: almost a fifth (18%) now say this is a top-four concern compared with one in eight (12%) in 2015.

It is worth noting also that the environmental impact of vehicle use ranked very low on most motorists’ list of concerns, despite the relatively high level of media coverage of such issues over the last 12 months. Just 7% named environmental impact as a top-four concern, while the same proportion are worried about the accuracy of fuel efficiency and emissions claims made by motor manufacturers. Even fewer (6%) are concerned about the impact of diesel emissions on health.

Nevertheless, as the findings highlighted later in this report will show, there are still high levels of awareness – if not outright concern – of these matters among Britain’s motorists.

18% of motorists say the cost of parking is now one of their top four concerns