Car traffic has broken through the 500 billion vehicle km per year barrier for the first time according to the Road Traffic Statistics Bulletin 2006 released today.
Despite our increased level of car traffic (a 1.4% increase between 2005 and 2006) the UK has the lowest increase in Europe (standing at 12% on its last measurement between 1993 and 2003). The ‘white van man’ is also more prevalent on UK roads and we are seeing an increased amount of traffic in rural areas.
We also appear to be getting better at obeying speed limits. In 2006 there was a 22% increase in the number of people obeying speed limits, although there is still a large proportion of the population not travelling at the correct speed. Motorcyclists were least likely to obey speed limits and speed limits are most likely to be exceeded between the hours of 6am-7am and 8pm-9pm.
Congestion* has increased 5% on the slowest 10% of roads and journey times have increased by 1.4% between 2005 and 2006. The worst congestion hotspots can be found on the M25, M6 and M1 and the slowest 10% of journeys account for nearly one third of all delays. The M25 is the only place where average vehicle flows have fallen between 2001-2006, with the Western link experiencing the most delays. Traffic on motorways has grown faster than any other road type (27%), but overall road lengths have only increased by 2.6% over 2005-2006 and the majority of this growth has been through increased residential roads in urban areas (5.2% increase).
The picture of 2006 is one of increased traffic, lower speeds and more congestion at key hotspots. It will be interesting to see ten years on whether we will have grinded to a halt altogether. A mix of options is needed to keep the country moving. There has been some progress in encouraging public transport usage in London, but lots more needs to be done elsewhere.
Source: Road Traffic Statistics 2006: Traffic, Speeds and Congestion DfT.
* Congestion is defined as average vehicle delay.
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Drink driving has a negative impact on men’s love lives according to new research*. Two-thirds of women want to be with a man who has a car and therefore convicted drink drivers risk losing more than just their licence.
30% of the women surveyed said that they would be angry if their partner was caught drink driving and 9% said that they would not show any sympathy if their partner was caught over the alchol limit. The survey also found that men were more concerned about the impact that losing their licence would have on their love lives than the prospect of losing their job or facing a huge fine. These findings have been used in the new DfT sponsored Think campaign which targets young male drivers.
Drink driving is an increasing problem in the UK, especially amongst the young and it is really encouraging to see that messages about this behaviour are being presented in the way that connects with the people most at risk. We all know that we shouldn’t drink and drive, and reminding high risk offenders of what they stand to lose is a good way to get people thinking about the consequences of their driving habits.
* Think! campaign
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Many company car drivers are both short sighted and confused when it comes to eye tests and the new smoking laws. According to new research from Green Flag and Arval only one third of company car drivers have regular eye tests and a quarter are failing to get to grips with the new smoking ban.
Employees have a duty under the motor licence regulations to inform the Drivers Medical Group if their eyesight has deteriorated since their licence was issued and therefore not having regular eye tests at the prescribed two-year intervals could land drivers with a fine up to £1,000.
One quarter of company car drivers also admitted to being confused by new laws on smoking in company cars and one in seven drivers (16%) did not know that they were unable to smoke in their vehicle if it is used to carry colleagues. With the plethora of legislation and duty of care responsibilities bearing down on driving for work it is important that all drivers and companies are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to doing business out on the country’s roads.
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Potholes can play havoc with a cars’ suspension and council coffers. Potholes cause £100-300m of damage a year and although one in ten motorists suffer from damage 80% of motorists do not believe council tax increases should be used to improve the roads*.
13% of respondents to the whatcar.com poll said they would be prepared to pay up to £10 a month extra if it meant that local roads would be in a better condition and just 2% said they would pay up to £20 a month for improved roads. The motorist currently pays £45 billion to the treasury each year (RUA, 2006/07**) and therefore put in this context it is understandable why the majority of motorists are reluctant to pay even more to finance transport improvements.
* Source: www.whatcar.com poll
** Road Users Alliance Road File 2006/07 www.rua.org.uk
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