Traffic at record high05 Jul 2018

Some 327 billion miles travelled on Britain's roads in 2017

Traffic volume in Britain is at an all-time high.

The latest data shows that 327.1 billion miles were driven in 2017. This is an increase of 1.3% on the previous 12 months.


  • car traffic was up 1.1%;
  • van traffic up 2.7%,
  • lorry traffic up 1.2%


More than a fifth (21%) of all vehicle miles were driven on motorways even though they account for only 1% of the total road length in the country.

In England, the Strategic Road Network, operated by Highways England and comprising motorways and major A roads, saw 34% of all motorised traffic even though it accounts for only 2.4% of the English network.

The Department for Transport says the long-term rise in road traffic since 1949 has “largely been due to an increasing number of licensed vehicles, although there have been fluctuations in average annual mileage.”

The DfT adds that: “Over the long term, the relative cost of purchasing a motor vehicle has decreased, and this has contributed to increases in car ownership.

“According to the National Travel Survey, only 14% of British households had access to a car in 1951, versus 77% in 2016. Scope for further growth in ownership remains as, in 2016, 44% of households in the lowest income quintile were without access to a car.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“You could see the increase in traffic, especially the extra van and lorry mileage, as a sign of a resilient and growing economy, but it also underlines the need for sustained investment in our roads.

“National and local highways have never been so busy and the result of so much use is easy to see in the form of potholes and ruts.

“We need consistent, long-term funding to ensure routes are adequately maintained and can stand up to the pressure.”



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

All the Foundation’s work is available on its website: