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Motoring experts warn over record UK traffic levels

Britain's roads are becoming "increasingly congested" as new figures reveal record traffic levels, motoring experts have warned.

There were 320.5 billion vehicle miles travelled in 2016, up 1.2% on the previous year, according to Department for Transport (DfT) data.

This is the most ever recorded, and is 2% more than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.

Traffic on motorways and rural A roads increased to new record levels last year, rising by 2.1% and 2.5% respectively.

RAC public affairs spokesman Nick Lyes said: "Today's statistics lay bare just how increasingly congested our roads are becoming.

"Motorists, who are paying in excess of £40 billion a year in overall motoring taxation, will find it incredibly frustrating that they are having to deal with clogged up roads with these provisional figures showing that traffic levels hit an all-time high in 2016."

Research commissioned by the RAC shows that congestion and longer journey times are ranked fourth in a list of the biggest concerns among motorists.

Mr Lyes added: " While the Government has made progress in investing in the strategic road network, motorists will be unforgiving if the same attention isn't given to local roads.

"These record figures show there is a lot of catching up to be done if we are going to keep motorists and the economy moving."

Van traffic saw the biggest growth last year at 3.4%, with heavy goods vehicles up 2.8% and cars up 0.7%.

Rolling annual motor vehicle traffic has now increased each quarter in succession for more than three years.

AA president Edmund King said the boom in internet shopping has contributed to the rise.

He went on: "O ur members are increasingly relying on these services rather than making visits to stores - which is one reason, along with parking pressures and the impact of higher pump prices, why residential road traffic is still depressed."

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) claimed the figures highlight the need for the Government to boost investment in public transport, walking and cycling routes, to take action to ensure new homes are built near public transport connections and to encourage more freight traffic off the roads and on to rail.

CBT sustainable transport campaigner Bridget Fox said: " Given what we now know about the country's lethal and illegal levels of air pollution, more than ever we must see urgent action taken to halt the growth in traffic levels on our roads."

A DfT spokeswoman said: " We are taking the big decisions for Britain's future by investing a record £23 billion to get traffic moving and reduce delays.

"Transport doesn't just help people get around, it helps them get on. Roads open up opportunities and vehicles have clocked up a record number of miles in the last year, which is good news for British industry and our economy as a whole."

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