Credit crunch 'eases congestion'Cost of fuel has also 'helped ease traffic'

27 August 2008

Cars in a traffic jam

The credit crunch coupled with sky-high fuel prices have caused congestion to ease on major roads, it's been revealed.

Traffic congestion on Britain's motorways and major trunk roads reduced by 12% in the first six months of this year compared with the January-June 2007 period.

The average speed on motorways has slowed from 63.3mph for the year ending June 2007 to 62.2mph over the 12-month period ending June 2008 as drivers go more slowly to conserve fuel, a journey time index compiled by Trafficmaster and the RAC Foundation showed.

Journey times

But although motorists have found they have been able to shave 0.3% off their journey times in the 12 months June 2008, journey times have risen 2.6% since 2005.

Overall, the route with the most dramatic decrease in congestion is the northern section of London's orbital road, the M25, between junctions 21 and 31, with a 26% reduction in traffic jams over the period from June 2007 to June 2008 compared to the same period in 2006/07.

Georgina Read at Trafficmaster said: 'Our traffic monitoring network shows the start of a change in driving patterns and behaviour over the past six to 12 months.

'Average motorway speeds have reduced as has congestion. This indicates a reduction in the volume of vehicles, especially HGVs, travelling on the roads.

'One obvious explanation for this is that rising fuel prices and general economic concerns are making people think carefully about how they drive. The upshot of less traffic is a drop in congestion levels, meaning motorists can get from A to B quicker while travelling at lower and more economical speeds. It really is a case where less haste can mean more speed.'

Congestion

Sheila Rainger, head of campaigns at the RAC Foundation, said: 'The fall in congestion is good news in an otherwise bleak picture for UK motorists and shows that motorists are moving journeys out of peak hours where possible.

'However, this altered pattern of demand can only be a breathing space for policymakers, and does not remove the case for investment in a package of congestion-busting measures, including action to tackle bottlenecks, and properly planned additional capacity on the UK's strategic network.

'Until these long-term improvements are in place, motorists can achieve a more reliable journey by planning ahead and making small adjustments to avoid the jams.'

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