Belfast Telegraph

Vans clocked 2.2bn miles more on roads in 2016 with popularity of buying online

Vans clocked up 2.2 billion miles more on Britain's roads last year amid the continued popularity of online shopping, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Mileage by vans grew more quickly than any other vehicle type, up 4.7% to 49.1 billion.

The DfT said the rise was likely to be fuelled by deliveries of goods bought on the internet.

Some 77% of adults shopped online at least once last year, compared with 53% in 2008.

Over the past five years, the distance travelled by vans has increased by 18.7%, compared with a rise of just 5% by cars.

AA traffic analyst Jack Cousens said: "A 5% increase in van mileage from last year shows that the economy is improving and self-employment is playing a significant role.

"But with pressures on improving air quality accelerating, delivery companies with older vehicles may be pressured into reducing their emissions.

"This could be achieved by installing collection points or lockers in public places, or by introducing greener vans."

Overall traffic levels jumped by 2.2% last year to 323.7 billion miles.

But bus mileage fell by 7.7%, continuing a trend seen since 2007.

Mr Cousens said: " There is clearly a funding crisis which needs to be addressed.

"Buses play an important role in both urban and rural communities, so any party looking to form a government after 8 June will need to think about reversing the fall in bus mileage."

RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: "These figures underline the importance in having a road network that is truly fit for purpose - and a reminder to whoever forms the next government that investment must be sustained to support further economic growth, and to provide roads that deliver safe, reliable journeys for every UK motorist.

"Local roads are also seeing traffic growth and many are struggling to cope with a depressing combination of congestion and potholes.

"This is a constant source of frustration for millions of private and business motorists every day."

Separate figures show t he total road length in Britain was estimated to be 246,500 miles last year, an increase of 600 miles compared with 2015.