And despite more traffic on the roads, greenhouse gases emitted by cars fell last year


According to Government figures, motorists in the UK covered 327 billion miles in 2017 and despite the increase in traffic levels, greenhouses gases emitted by cars fell last year.

Drivers across the UK travelled a record number of miles in 2017 – 1.3% more than they did the previous year.

Broken down into what kind of vehicles covered the 327 billion miles travelled last year, 254 billion was by passenger cars (an increase of 1% from 2016), 51 billion by vans (a rise of 3%), 17 billion by lorries (up by 1%), three billion by motorcycles (no change) and two billion by buses (a drop of 3%).

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Motorists in the UK covered a record number of miles in 2017 – 327 billion! © Copyright Mat Fascione and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Department for Transport (DfT) data also confirmed that the volume of greenhouse gases emitted by cars has fallen by 3% since 1990, despite an increase of car traffic during the same period of 22%. The DfT suggests this could be “partially attributed to cars becoming more fuel efficient”.

The biggest increase was from van traffic, growing faster than any other kind of vehicle since 2006, whereas lorry traffic increased from 2016 to 2017 but still remains at lower levels compared to records from the mid-2000s.

UK motorways account for around 1% of our road network and saw 21% of the traffic, whilst urban ‘A’ roads which make up 3% of the UK road network saw 15%.

Rural ‘A’ roads in the UK make up 9% of the network and saw 30%, urban minor roads on 35% of the network saw 20% and rural minor roads which make up 53% of the network saw 14%.

According to DfT figures, 86% of cars, 84% of vans and 75% of rigid HGVs break the speed limit through 20mph zones. Furthermore, 52% of cars break the 30mph speed limit, whilst 48% break the law when driving on the motorway.

AA president Edmund King commented on the data, suggesting that cars are the most popular type of transport because they’re “flexible, cost-effective, personal and safe”, but also added: “It is lamentable that for all the pontificating about the sins of driving, the alternatives continue to fail to evolve.”

Mr King also said that the AA is “greatly concerned” about greenhouse gases emitted from cars and believes “more incentives are needed to encourage both businesses and private drivers to switch to the cleanest possible vehicles as quickly as possible”.




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